Farmer accuses Valencia County Sheriff’s deputy of stealing hay

VALENCIA COUNTY, NM (KRQE) – A Valencia County farmer said a sheriff’s deputy has been stealing his hay, but thinks the sheriff’s department is sweeping the issue under the rug.

Matthew Chavez has been working on farms his entire life; it’s how he supports his family.

Back in May, he discovered someone stealing his livelihood.

“I noticed a little bit of hay each time missing so that’s what made me go put up the camera and it was right there in plain sight,” Chavez said.

Friday, the sheriff’s department said officials can’t talk about it because it’s an internal affairs matter.

Chavez believes the man seen in the barn near Belen in his surveillance images is Deputy Fred Torres.

“He admitted to taking 20 [bales] but that was back in December and I had him on camera in April so it’s been ongoing,” Chavez said.

Chavez contacted the sheriff’s department and said he’s been waiting for answers for three months.

“This is the way you make a living and you’ve already got mother nature against you as it is so for someone to be stealing from you and for it to be a sheriff’s deputy, that is where it gets interesting,” he said.

Chavez estimates the the value of the bales stolen is about $1,500, if not more. He still doesn’t know exactly how many bales were taken. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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