Almost $30,000 worth of taxpayer money in grass, wildflower seed stolen

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- A big truck, strength and knowledge of a job site. That’s what deputies say someone had to have in order to make off with more than 1,200 pounds of grass and wildflower seed, meant to complete a roadside project at the Interstate 35-Homestead Lane interchange.

Rick Clark is a superintendent with RFB Construction. He told FOX 4’s Megan Dillard he’s in charge of the seeding for this project. He said, in the 18 years he’s done this type of work, he’s never had anything stolen like that off of a job site.

“Shock, disappointment. It affects everything. The equipment, anything we have to profit, goes back into the company, along with guys’ raises, bonuses, is now shot on this job,” Clark explained.

Johnson County deputies say someone stole nearly $30,000 worth of seed. Someone took 16 bags of grass seed and six bags of wildflower seed from the job site, sometime between 8 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Each bag weighed nearly 60 pounds, and come at a heavy cost as well.

“The highway department mixes those together, puts them out here on the interchange, grass down for erosion control. That seed is specially formulated. It’s very expensive,” Detective Brett Wilson explained.

Clark explained how he learned something on the job site went wrong.

“One of the workers came over and told me. I sent him over to get the seed this morning so we could finish up here and on the other side, and he said that it was gone,” he said.

Clark says the seed blend is specific to certain job sites, making it a waste for someone to steal the seed.

“It was more or less a waste for someone else to use it, unless it was some individual seeding their house or something like that, which if they did, they got a lot of seed," Clark said. "Everything that we’ve got is certified for this job. Our search has to match. Everything we do is certified, all our seeds are, everything has to be tested. If anyone went to resell it or use it, they’d have to have paperwork to do anything with the state.”

Police want to remind the public, it is taxpayer money that funds these projects.

“It’s very unusual to see a truck loaded with grass seed, going down the highway in the middle of the night. That just doesn’t happen. It’s usually this time of day or later,” Detective Wilson said.

It’s because of that, he’s asking anyone who might’ve seen a truck carrying a load of grass seed near that area late Tuesday or early Wednesday, to call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 913-715-5561.

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