Police Looking For 'Phat Farm' Bandits

JEFFERSON, Ohio - Police in Ashtabula County are hot on the trail of a group of thugs with a taste for name-brand jeans, 19/43 News' Paul Orlousky reported.

Farming has always been a way of life in Ashtabula County, but now a new, illegal kind of farming is taking over -- "phat farming." This refers to a trade in stolen "Phat Farm" jeans.

Phat Farm is the brand name of the clothing line featuring hip-hop and urban apparel by Def Jam founder Russell Simmons. The style of the clothing is something that's very unique, causing demand to go through the roof.

Twice in recent weeks, thieves have grabbed armloads of the $62 jeans and fled the Dillard's department store in Ashtabula's Randall Park Mall. In all, more than $2000 worth of Phat Farm clothing was stolen.

What makes the crime even more serious is that when store employees confronted the thieves in the mall's parking lot, they were threatened. One of the men told the workers to get out of the way, or he'd shoot them.

"They go after these things that they can fence real quick, and people will buy for $5 or $10 when in fact they cost $60 or $75," Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson said.

Johnson's deputies chased the thieves for miles, but they got away in somewhere in Cleveland. Most of the jeans were recovered later.

Police got a license plate number, but the car that the thieves used had been stolen. They do, however, hope to have a composite of the suspects involved in a day or two.