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HOME > Prosecutions > Ag Crime

 
  Agricultural Crime  
  Crime does not recognize city limits. Criminals strike whenever and wherever there is an opportunity. Because farms and ranches are often isolated in rural areas they are frequently easy prey for the unscrupulous.

In 1996, the Rural Crime Prevention Model Program (Rural Crime Bill), based upon a proposal written by former District Attorney Phil Cline and carried in the legislature by Assemblyman Chuck Poochigian, was passed and signed into law by Governor Wilson. The Rural Crime Bill authorized Tulare County to develop the Rural Crime Prevention Demonstration Project. As a result, the Office of the District Attorney, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office, and the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner's Office initiated the Rural Crime Prevention Program.

The program is dedicated to the development of new and more effective techniques for addressing agricultural crime. The program's main goal is to provide protection for farmer's and rancher's property by vigorously prosecuting all suspects involved in rural crime.

Tulare County has a special interest in protecting farmers and ranchers and is uniquely suited for this program because of its agriculturally based economy. Nearly 50% of the 3,158,400 acres in Tulare County are under cultivation, and of the 311,000 residents, nearly 60% rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

This program actively pursues educational activities to encourage farmers and ranchers to register their equipment with the Sheriff's Office, to inform them of available security systems, and to work with the media and various grass roots organizations to publicize prevention, suppression, and prosecution actions to deter criminals. The program developed a task force to coordinate efforts and increase efficiency and effectiveness. This task force uses all available technologies, information resources, and legal tools to vigorously investigate and prosecute suspects. It also works with the state legislature to investigate modifying existing laws to enhance rural protection. In addition, a research program will accompany the practical efforts of the program to determine the effectiveness of each activity.
 
     
  Tips to Prevent Ag Crime  
  Prevent Wire Theft  
  These photos represent an idea brought about by a member of the ag community in an attempt to deter future wire thefts. The lock can be purchased at Grainger. PVC conduit is replaced with steel conduit. http://www.agcrime.net/images/crimetips1.gif     http://www.agcrime.net/images/crimetips2.gif

http://www.agcrime.net/images/crimetips3.gif     http://www.agcrime.net/images/crimetips4.gif

 

 
     
  Prevent Crime on Your Property  
 

Register your property with an Owner-Applied Number (OAN). This number is engraved on your equipment in a hidden spot with metal punches or brands. The information is fed into a computer. When stolen equipment is recovered, if it has been numbered, the rightful owner can be notified.

If possible, lock equipment inside a barn or shed each night, preferably near the house. Make sure doors and windows are secure.

Never park machinery within easy access to the road where it is vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

Keep small equipment locked in a barn or garage.

Remove rotors, distributor caps or batteries from motorized equipment left outside for long periods of time.

Do not leave tools or other equipment in the back of a pickup truck. Locked toolboxes are a deterrent to thieves.

Keep storage areas neat and well-organized to keep track of equipment and discourage potential thieves.
 

Lock up chemicals; if stolen, they can be resold.

Notify your local law enforcement agency of your chemical delivery and storage sites.

Install audible alarms on outbuildings to prevent illegal entry or theft.

Make a note of any suspicious vehicle or person that you notice and send the information to the Sheriff’s Office.

Avoid feeding livestock next to a county or public road. Livestock can be accustomed to this and may run up to any vehicle.

Brand, mark, tattoo, or identify your stock in some manner.

Secure gas pumps, gas tanks, storage bins and grain elevators with strong locks, sturdy padlocks with hardened steel hasps, or dead bolts with a one-inch throw.

 

 
     
  Protecting Your Chemicals  
  Lock up all chemicals, they are essentially like cash money for a thief.

Request that chemicals be delivered on the days you need them and not before.

Return excess chemicals to the chemical distributor. By not having a stockpile of chemicals in your shed you will decrease the opportunity for theft.
  Notify your local law enforcement agency of your chemical delivery and storage sheds.

Install alarms on chemical shed doors or windows.

When possible, mark your chemical containers with your Owner Applied Number.
 
     
  Protecting Your Trees  
  When planting new trees, take the time to place a painted color band on each tree. This will assist in locating stolen trees.   When possible, do not leave trees-to-be-planted at the site overnight. This provides an excellent opportunity for theft.  
     
  Ways You Can Assist Law Enforcement  
  Preserve the crime scene by staying away from the area. This will avoid contamination of evidence.

Keep cattle and other livestock out of the area of question.

If it appears it might rain, prior to law enforcement officers arriving, place boxes, tarps or some form of protective cover over tire/shoe tracks an any evidence.

Mark your livestock. The most foolproof means of doing this is probably by doing hot, chemical or freeze branding.
  Let thieves know your livestock is permanently marked by displaying signs on your fences, barns and gates. These signs can be purchased from the California Farm Bureau. Click here.

Check your stock frequently by conducting daily counts if possible. Make arrangements to have your livestock checked when you are away.

Make sure all fences and gates are in good condition and locked.
 
     
  Owner Applied Number (OAN)  
  To join the OAN program please contact Investigator Josh Rowlett at (559) 636-5410
or email jrowlett@co.tulare.ca.us

All email inquiries should list "OAN" in the subject line
 
     
 

A system known as Owner Applied Numbers (OAN) can be used for the protection of equipment, vehicles, and other valuables. This system can be entered into its own specific field in both California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) records. The set of additional identification numbers are placed on vehicles, equipment or other valuables as a supplemental means of identification to the manufacturer’s factory I.D. numbers.

OAN are usually hand stamped on heavy equipment and will not generally be as large or precise as those applied by the manufacturer. The OAN are most often stamped using 1/8” or 1/4” letters and numbers. In California, the OAN I.D. system uses a 10 digit coded number which is issued by the Sheriff’s Department and is recommended for business, industry and agriculture.

  The OAN System is composed of ten characters, which identify the state, county, and business. The coded identification number allows local law enforcement to identify stolen property and contact the owner. OAN are stamped in several locations on heavy equipment and may be affixed by metal die stamps, indelible ink, branding iron or electric pencils. Be alert for any number that appears to have been secondarily applied to the equipment being examined.
OAN are used and approved by:

County Sheriff’s Offices
California Highway Patrol
California Farm Bureau Federation

 

 
     
  More information can be found in our Rural Crime Program Brochure:
Click here to download

For more information about OAN, including the application:
Click here to download

 
     


Office of the District Attorney, County of Tulare
 ▫  221 S Mooney Blvd, Rm 224, Visalia, CA 93291-4593    (559) 636-5494
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