Thieves are targeting rural homes and businesses in Cole, Callaway, Boone, and Miller counties.

"The majority of the thefts have been out of sheds around some of the rural areas and farms and things like that," Cole County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Hill said. "We actually had one shed that was broken into that was locked. We're looking at things like welders, trailers, cattle panels and things like that."

The thefts started back in July.

Since then, tens of thousands of dollars of equipment have been taken.

Authorities tell ABC 17 News they are working several leads that could lead to arrests.

They credit the people of rural Cole County with bringing them leads.

Officials say license plate numbers and faces have been caught on deer cameras that are now being used as surveillance cameras.

At one home, the thieves stole a trailer. They hooked the trailer to a truck and then backed it into a barn where they loaded it with more than $10,000 of tools.

Lt. Hill believes the thefts can be avoided if residents put locks on trailers and remember to lock shed doors.