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In the past few weeks, large stacks of hay bales around Royse City have been burned by alleged vandals, costing the distributor tens of thousands of dollars. A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

A Waco-based hay distributor says vandals are to blame for a number of large hay bale stacks destroyed by fire in recent weeks.

According to Mark Jackson – owner of Waco Dairy and hay distributor for Royse City-based Dodson Farms – five stacks containing 200 bales each have been destroyed by fire in the last few weeks, including two directly across from Royse City High School. Jackson says the total value of product destroyed is around $50,000, as each stack contains 200 bales, with each bale selling for $45-50.

“I’ve been distributing there for the last 9-10 years and each year we’ve had losses,” Jackson said. “This stuff doesn’t just burst into flames. It has to be the work of vandals and something needs to be done to stop it.”

Jackson went on to say that the losses have cut into the small profit he makes.

“I don’t make much on the hay, it’s just wheat straw that goes out to mushroom farms,” he said. “So to destroy a large quantity like that is certainly a hit to business.”

Although he isn’t locally-based, Jackson says talk of similar fires around the area have been passed down to him, and he believes there is a growing vandalism issue that needs to be stopped.

“I heard an abandoned house, and a farmers’ fuel trailer in the area were both burned on the same night,” he said. “This problem needs to be stopped before somebody gets hurt.”

Royse City police chief Jeff Stapleton confirmed that these fires are becoming an issue.

“We’ve had a number of these fires and they certainly look like they were set intentionally,” he said.

Stapleton did not say, however, if there are any leads as to who is setting these fires.

Jackson is offering a reward of $5,000 to anybody who can provide information about the incidents that leads to an arrest and conviction. For more information, call 254-717-3425.

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