Crop circles baffle Naperville, Ill., farmer

Monday, July 29, 2002

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Caution Naperville residents: A soybean-destroying alien may be on the loose.

That or a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan.

Someone -- or something -- cut a crop circle in Steve Berning's soybean field last weekend, damaging more than 10 percent of the 8-acre field.

"Have you ever heard of something so crazy?" Berning said. "Unbelievable."

Shyamalan's big-budget film "Signs," which will be released Friday, tells the story of a Pennsylvania farmer who finds mysterious crop circles in his fields.

The Naperville circle's intricate pattern of broken, concentric rings loosely resembles other crop circles found in England.

Berning blames pranksters for the "hoax," but some crop circle investigators suggest other causes, such as magnetic fields, wind storms or UFOs.

William Leone, an investigator with the Mutual UFO Network, said soil analysis could determine whether the circles have human or extraterrestrial origins.

The UFO theory doesn't fly with Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman Dennis Vercler.

"Since I don't believe in UFOs -- at least not soybean-destroying UFOs -- I have to assume whoever did this did it intentionally as a malicious prank."

Berning said he hopes to find the culprit, but does not think anything can be done about the circle.

"There's some damage, which upsets me," he said. "But I'm more curious than anything. I'll always be asking questions."

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