Vandals kill $20,000 in tobacco plants

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Hornback’s greenhouse hit but tractors ignored

By Lisa King

Police are asking for the public’s help in solving a major vandalism case on a farm owned by a prominent farmer and political candidate.

Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong said that deputies have made no arrests from vandalism that occurred May 23 at 3251 Mount Eden Road on a farm belonging to state Senate candidate Paul Hornback, who has one of the county’s largest farm businesses.

Armstrong said the damage to a greenhouse containing tobacco plants was estimated to be around $20,000.

Hornback, who found the damage the next day, said he grows 100 acres of tobacco on the property, and he said that more than 70 acres of plants were damaged or destroyed.

“They also painted some graffiti on some doors, but they walked right past my tractors and didn’t do anything to them,” he said.

Hornback characterized the graffiti as being neither personal nor political, “just very obscene and kind of juvenile.”

Armstrong said that if apprehended, whoever caused the damage could be looking at up to 5 years in prison, if convicted of first-degree criminal mischief, a Class D felony.

 “That’s [criminal mischief] just the biggest charge. There could also be others,” Armstrong said.

Hornback expressed his dismay at the damage.

“I think it’s pretty low for somebody to do something like that to me,” he said. “I just hope they catch whoever did it.”

Armstrong said if anybody has any information about the incident, they may call his office at 633-4324 or central dispatch at 633-2323.

Also, people may call Crime Stoppers at 633-4500, who encourages anyone with information relating to these incidents, no matter how small, to call.

Crimes are usually solved by insignificant details, and one can remain anonymous and still receive a cash reward up to $1,000.