Anhydrous Ammonia Theft on the Rise

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Farmers use it to fertilize their crops, but now drug dealers want to get their hands on some.

Anhydrous ammonia, it's a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine. Those cooking up the drug are doing whatever it takes to get their hands on some:

"We apprehended three people at this business," says Ogle County Sheriff Mel Messer.

Burglars have crawled up on Scott Fitzsimmons's supply lot nearly a dozen times the past year. They look for unlocked containers to drain out supply. Sheriff Messer says he isn't surprised. Meth labs have been popping up all over our area:

"Over the past five years there’s been a one hundred percent increase in what we see. The numbers are still small but they’re increasing,” says Sheriff Messer.

The thieves are stealing just a few gallons out of these takes. But they turn thousands of dollars in profits using it to make meth.

"One hundred dollars of product to generate $2,500 to $3,000 of product to sell," says Messer.

A 1,000 gallon tank costs about eight hundred dollars. So the theft of two or three gallons is minor to businesses. But most suppliers say they're not taking any chances.

"We don't leave our tanks out at night anymore. When we bring tanks in we have motion detectors and cameras set up," says John Dulin of Maplehurst Farms.

Sheriff Messer says his deputies have increased their patrols around anhydrous supply lots. They're just waiting to catch someone in the act.