Question: What do grapes, cattle, bees, tractors and copper wire have in common?
Answer: They have all been stolen from farms within the last two years.
Agriculture and farm theft is much more common than people think and replacing the stolen items is very costly for the farm owners.
As with most things, there is a resale market for farm equipment, produce and especially metal like copper wire. The remote locations of farms can also make it easier for theft.
Metal theft is so rampant that Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced and Senator Ron Calderon, D-Montebello both introduced legislation, AB 909 and SB 485, to curb theft that impacts the farming industry. AB 909 introduced by Assemblymember Gray would create a Metal Theft Task Force Program in the state Department of Justice that would provide grants to law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to focus on metal theft. SB 485 would require junk dealers “to prove they are properly permitted to operate prior to obtaining a weighmaster certificate from county agricultural commissioners.”
Governor Jerry Brow vetoed AB 909 and signed SB 485.
According to an article by Ag Alert, one farmer has had approximately $40,000 worth of copper wire stolen from his irrigation pumps.
Technology is Key
Many farmers are turning to perimeter security, surveillance camera systems and motion detectors to monitor their land and property. Some farmers have even gone as far as to put cameras in the barns with their livestock.
Any deterrent is better than no deterrent and if property is stolen – they at least have a lead as to who the perpetrator may be. And with the advances in technology, night vision surveillance cameras can capture clear video of the act.
Steps to Take to Deter Agriculture and Farm Theft
- Lock equipment inside a barn or shed each night, when possible.
- Never park machinery within easy access to the road where it is vulnerable to theft and vandalism.
- Remove rotors, distributor caps or batteries from motorized equipment left outside for long periods of time.
- Do not leave tools in the back of a pickup truck.
- Lock up all chemicals. If stolen, they can be resold.
- Avoid feeding livestock next to a public road. Livestock may become accustomed to the noise and walk up to any vehicle.
For a complete list of agriculture prevention tips, please visit The ACTION Project website.