ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - A reward is being offered for the safe return of nine farm animals that were stolen from the Leesport Farmers Market in Berks County.
The theft happened sometime between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, according to Daniel "Woody" Weist, owner of the market in Ontelaunee Township.
The pen where four beloved goats rested and roamed is now empty.
"Everyone is pretty upset because they've become part of the family," said Weist. "We've had them since April."
Four pigs, which weigh about 600 pounds each, and one black-faced sheep were also forced through the barn and taken.
The goats are less than a year old. The market just had a contest a few weeks back to name them, but when a worker went to check on Alfalfa, Barley, Buckwheat and Clover around 5 a.m. Thursday, the goats were gone and the gate was wide open.
"I figured they didn't latch it and the goats pushed it open, so I went around and checked the whole barn," said Harry Hartranft, who found the pen empty.
Weist called police and local auctions in the area, but he said they realized the animals were long gone after seeing almost every door in the loading dock open and they found a chain was cut with a bolt cutter.
"Who's next? asked Jeff Gechter, who works at the market. "I mean, where's it going to stop and whose safe anymore?"
The market does not have any leads except some surveillance video that shows a cattle trailer driving up around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The market has never had any animals stolen since it opened in 1947, said Weist, who added he feels violated.
"When they take merchandise and physical things it's one thing, but when they take a pet, it's kind of frustrating," said Weist. "People are really upset because they come to visit these goats on a Wednesday and now they're not here anymore."
Weist is offering a $200 reward to anyone with information that leads to the animals safe return or helps catch those responsible.
If you have any information about the theft, call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913. A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
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