Crawfish thieves, beware
Crawfish theft not only hurts our farmers and fishermen, but it can also land you in jail with a pretty hefty sentence.
Crawfish farmers already have enough to worry about without someone stealing their delectable product. In the last decade, crawfish farmers in Southwest Louisiana have had to face devastating droughts and hurricanes, all while trying to compete with the massive importation of crawfish from China.
The La. crawfish industry has become a driving force in Louisiana agriculture, according to the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer’s Association. In addition to providing jobs for more than 7,000 people and infusing $120 million a year into Louisiana’s economy, the ponds also provide habitat for migratory birds, and crawfish farmers are working closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to intensify their conservation efforts.
Today, Louisiana leads the nation in farm-raised crawfish production, with more than 200,000 acres in production and more than 85 percent of the crawfish Americans eat coming from crawfish farms.
The Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office has recently received numerous complaints of crawfish thefts from area farmers. Sheriff Ivy Woods has extra patrol units out aggressively looking for subjects trespassing and taking crawfish from area fields.
Last week those efforts resulted in the arrest of four Lake Charles men after sheriff’s deputies caught them with 85 lbs. of stolen live crawfish. The four men were all arrested and charged with theft of crawfish and booked into the parish jail with a $10,000 bond each.
We don’t take crawfish theft lightly in Louisiana, so much that there is a specific law for the theft of those creepy night crawlers.
According to the Louisiana Theft of Crawfish Law, R.S. 14:67.5, crawfish theft can result in up to 10 years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines for stealing $500 or more worth of the state’s favorite crustacean.
Someone who steals between $300 and $500 worth of crawfish can be fined up to $2,000 and receive up to two years in prison. Even stealing under $100 worth of crawfish can get you up to six months in prison and $500 in fines.
Crawfish farmers already have enough problems competing with Chinese crawfish and depending on the unreliability of weather conditions without thieves stealing their revenue source.
So the next time you get hungry for some spicy Louisiana tail meat, go out and buy them and support the industry that brings so much to our state. But if you decide to snag your next bag of creepy crawlers illegally, remember that the sheriff’s office will be out looking for you and you will be prosecuted.
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