Family devastated when thieves strip and gut beloved barn

Posted at 3:39 PM, Apr 10, 2015

Wilton, IA  -- At some point in the coldest days of February, thieves stripped apart the iconic barn on Sally Ruggeberg's farm in Wilton, Iowa, and took away the last part of her family's heritage there.

"I can imagine how they did it with the chainsaws and how they went down and took the studs and took out the milk parlor," Ruggeberg said. "They took out four rafters and then left a rafter, and then took out four rafters, and left a rafter."

They stripped it so badly, that Ruggeberg was forced to tear down the barn all together.

"It's like they just scalped it," Ruggeberg said. "Those were 24-foot long, 8-inch wide, ship-lapped, hedge wood boards. You don't find boards of that length anymore that aren't cut, so we knew they were very valuable."

Ruggeberg said she thinks it was a group of people who stripped apart the massive barn at some point in February while she was out of town. She said the worst part about losing a piece of her family's heritage was telling her father about how it was stolen from them.

"He just put his head down and he's like, 'Some people, just some people. Who would steal a barn?'" Hedgewood said. "I felt bad that I couldn't protect him and the work that he did."

"It was a life. It was a living building for all these years. No one builds barns like that anymore," said Ruggeberg.

Ruggeberg said when the incident first happened, the Clinton County Sheriff's department put security cameras up around the barn to see if the thieves would come back, but no one ever did. She said there has been no movement on the case since then.

Anyone who may have any information on the theft is asked to call Clinton County Crimestoppers at 563-242-6595.