Crime is not confined to the cities. It is a growing problem in rural areas. Farmers, ranchers and agribusiness are being hit with thefts of heavy equipment, aluminum pipe, commodities, cattle and expensive farm chemicals. Isolated farms and ranches are also targets for vandalism and burglary. Many areas of Fresno County are rural in nature and provide a unique challenge when is come to crime prevention. There are many ways that businesses and citizens in rural areas can actively participate in crime prevention activities.
It is vital for homes and businesses in rural areas to have addresses clearly marked. If your address is not clearly visible from the roadway, emergency vehicles such as law enforcement, fire, and medical, may waste precious minutes looking for the correct location. Large easy to read reflective numbers on a post at the roadway helps direct responding agencies. If there is a group of addresses off of the roadway, each address should be posted.
Check your fences, gates, and locking systems frequently to make sure they are in good repair. Broken fences, gates or locks make it too easy for thefts of property or livestock. Use locks of hardened steel and keep in mind that a lock is only as good as the chain or hasp it is connected to. Never open a gate for the day and leave the lock hanging open. Thieves have been know to replace your lock with a similar one of their own then come back and take what they want.
Post your property with "No Trespass" signs. The legal requirement for these signs is for them to be 12" square in size and have 2" "No Trespass" letters. The signs should be posted three to a mile and at vehicle driveways. The Fresno County Sheriff's Office has a Rural Crime Alert program that allows citizens to issue citations to non-occupied suspicious vehicles parked on or around their property. This program is designed to reduce rural vandalism, trespassing, burglary and cattle rustling. Citizens are provided with the booklets containing self-carbon citations. One copy of the completed citation is placed on the unoccupied vehicle and the other is mailed to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. The registered owner of the vehicle is then contacted and an investigation begins regarding the purpose of the vehicle being parked where it was cited.
Lighting can be a valuable security tool if properly used and installed. It acts as a deterrent by making your home or business look occupied or less vulnerable. Timers can be used when you are away from your home to make the lights go on and off as they normally would. Businesses can light parking lots, doorways, loading areas and even the inside of buildings at night to make intruders easily visible to passersby and patrol cars. Take care in positioning lighting so that you avoid blinding traffic on nearby roadways.
Mark or brand each animal for positive identification. Local Brand Inspectors can be contacted for information on the proper method to use to mark different types of animals. Remember, positive identification is needed and any brands, ear notches, tattoos, paint or dye can be positive identification.
Owner Applied Number and Operation Identification
Owner Applied Numbers (OAN) and Operation Identification (Operation I.D.) are programs that have proven invaluable in recovering stolen equipment, chemicals, machinery and even household goods.
An OAN is an individual unique number issued to you or your business that can be traced by law enforcement anywhere in the United States. One of the essential points of this program is the uniformity of marking your property. A guide is available to assist you and a Community Service Officer will help with the actual marking of the property.
Your OAN or ID number should be applied to all tractors, implements and tools by using a metal stamping kit. Motors, pumps and heavy metal machinery can also be marked. The kit is available through the Fresno County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Office.
Chemicals can be marked in their plastic containers by using a rubber stamp and ink. Particularly vulnerable are containers of herbicides. They should be marked upon receipt and kept in a well-secured location. Most chemical thefts occur within 24 hours of receiving delivery.
Irrigation Pipe and other Metals
Some thieves target metals that can be taken to metal yards and sold. Among these metals are aluminum and copper. Irrigation pipe, sprinkler heads, and wire are a favorite target. Irrigation pipe can be marked by using paint and stencils. A special paint can be purchased that etches slightly into the aluminum and cannot be removed without a great deal of effort. Electronic etchers or an acid etch stamp can be used for smaller pieces of metal.
Farm Products and Containers
Fruit and vegetable bins should be clearly marked with your identification number. Become familiar with state laws and local ordinances that deal with requirements when transporting farm products and livestock.
Products such as hay can be marked by using special confetti. The confetti has your ID number printed on small, narrow strips of paper that can be added to the hay as it is baled. The confetti is distributed throughout the bale and cannot be removed. It is available through the Farm Bureau and an inexpensive confetti distributor can be purchased and attached to your baler.