Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is on the hunt for grass – well, grass seed – valued at close to $20,000. They’re also seeking six bags of wildflower seeds valued at $12,000.
Detective Brett Wilson said thieves stole 16 bags of grass seed and six bags of wildflower seeds from the side of the road at the Interstate 35-Homestead Lane interchange sometime during the night of May 6.
The seeds were to put the finishing touches on the interchange, which was open to traffic last fall. At the time, a Kansas Department of Transportation contractor seeded the area with temporary grass. The stolen seed was to be permanent.
Kimberly Qualls, a spokesperson for KDOT, said the seed belonged to the contractor – not the state. Despite the theft, Qualls said grass will be planted at the interchange soon.
“(The contractor) had grass seed right back in place the next day,” Qualls said.
However, police are on the hunt for the stolen property.
Wilson theorizes that the seed was taken by either another contractor working a similar project or possibly, someone wanting to plant grass at a newly-built home.
“Whoever stole this, if they knew what it was, it would be a similar contractor with a job somewhere else,” Wilson said. “How far would you drive to save yourself $28,000? If you’re a person who just bought a 10-acre lot and built a house and saw (the grass seed) sitting there, you made mistake – several mistakes – but this isn’t going to be what you want when it comes up.”
The stolen seed is a grass mix specifically designed for highway shoulders. The grass seed costs approximately $900 per 50-plus-pound bag. The wildflower seed is also expensive.
The wildflower seed is hand-picked. The seed manufacturer guarantees the bags do not contain noxious weeds. The six stolen bags of wildflowers are valued at $2,000 apiece.
Wilson said he’s never investigated the theft of grass and wildflowers before. He called the seed manufacturer to ask if it was a common occurrence.
There are no leads on the case. All police know for certain is that the seed was at the work site at about 8 p.m. on May 6. It was gone when workers returned at about 7 a.m. the next morning.
“We’re asking people that were out traveling Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, if they saw someone with a truck load of seeds in white bags with blue tags – if they saw something like that to give us a call,” Wilson said. “It would be very uncommon for someone to transport a large bunch of seed late at night.”
Wilson can be reached at (913)715-5560.