Rural Crime

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The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office is committed to combating rural crime dedicating one (1) full time Deputy District Attorney to prosecute agricultural crimes and those crimes happening in our rural communities.   Rural Crime 

This Deputy District Attorney serves as a member of the Fresno County Sheriff’s “Ag Task Force.” The Task Force works as a team to address the growing problems facing the Fresno County agricultural community.  

The Task Force’s focus is on crimes that impact the economic livelihood of farmers, ranchers, agricultural related businesses and rural residents.  It works to prevent criminal activity through education, encouraging the application of an Owner Applied Number (OAN), outreach, and to apprehend and prosecute those that perpetrate these crimes.

In addition, the Ag Task Force is a member of the Central Valley Rural Crime Task Force. The Rural Crime Task Force is a collaboration of eight (8) counties: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare. This Task Force shares information and resources in a proactive approach to combat rural crimes that occur in multiple counties.

Metal Theft    

In 2013, the California legislature strengthened many of the laws pertaining to metal theft.  For example, “quick cash” for non-ferrous material has been eliminated thereby making its theft and re-sale less lucrative. In addition, recyclers and junk dealers are now subject to more stringent reporting requirements to law enforcement.   

“Scrap metal theft” is a recurring problem in rural communities.  It is a serious concern for police, businesses, public utilities, railroad companies and the community at large.  For decades, there have been collaborative efforts to combat metal theft, yet it continues to increase.  

A large percentage of these thefts, however, involve small amounts of metal taken in each incident, often with repeat victims and repeat offenders. 

California farmers and ranchers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars replacing stolen metal and repairing damage caused by these thieves. Farming equipment and implements such as plows, cultivators, tractors and forklifts are also stolen, dismantled and sold as scrap metal, making identification difficult.  

OAN – Owner Applied Number.  

The OAN (Owner Applied Number) crime prevention program has been initiated in California for the identification of farm machinery, equipment and other related items. 

This FBI established system consists of a series of numerical identifiers assigned to each state and each county. Each county then assigns each applicant their own unique numerical identifier that can be affixed to their property and recorded in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) making recovered property easily identifiable.

Upon request, the county sheriff will provide you with your own OAN number. The OAN system is a free service to the community.  

Residents of Fresno County can register for the OAN by contacting the Fresno County Sheriff’s Ag Task Force at (559) 600-8150.

What you can do to help combat Rural Crime: 

  • Register and affix OAN numbers to your equipment and other property. 
  • Increase the physical security of your property.
  • Maintain an inventory list of equipment, complete with serial numbers, make, model, year, color and any other information that will help identify your property.
  • Secure catalytic converters.
  • Cage air conditioners to prevent coil theft.
  • Improve lighting, audible intrusion alarms, security cameras, signs and landscaping to promote surveillance.
  • Secure your equipment, materials, and vehicle keys at night and on weekends.
  • Require that gates remain closed to unauthorized personnel where and when appropriate.
  • Brand, mark, or identify your livestock in some manner.
  • Avoid feeding livestock near roads so as not to train them to run to vehicles.
  • Secure all chemicals and request delivery for the day you need them and not before.
  • Do not stockpile chemicals - return them to the distributor.  They can easily be resold.
  • If planting new trees, paint a colored band on them to identify them if stolen.

 

Resources

Fresno County Sheriff’s AG Task Force
California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force
Fresno County Farm Bureau
California Farm Bureau Federation

Crime Prevention Tips

Fresno County Sheriff’s – Rural Crime Prevention
California Farm Bureau Federation - Rural Crime Prevention Tips
9 Tools to Fight Farm Crime
Farm Crime: To Catch A Bee Rustler
Rural Crimes School: To Catch a Cattle Thief
Farm Security – Protect your Property