Trespass targeted during rural crime prevention month
» February 4, 2004 «
Armed with a new law to stiffen penalties against trespassers, California farmers are urged to take precautions to protect their property from rural crime. The California Farm Bureau Federation reminds farmers and ranchers during February, California Rural Crime Prevention Month, to take steps to prevent criminal activity that can cost them millions of dollars annually.
"Crime is not restricted to urban neighborhoods. Far from city lights, vandals can invade the tranquil rural landscape and cause trouble," said CFBF President Bill Pauli. "Crime isn't restricted to crops and equipment either. It can take the form of illegal dumping, poaching, meth labs and vandalism. Most crimes that occur on farms and ranches begin with trespassing."
Due to the nature of rural crimes, statewide statistics are difficult to compile. But in Fresno and Tulare counties, there were 1,192 incidents of agriculture-related crimes in 2003, totaling more than $3.7 million in losses.
"It is important that farmers and ranchers take precautions to protect their property," said Pauli. "Farmers should be aware of trespass laws and the need to post signs."
In January, a new law took effect that raises penalties for those convicted of trespassing on lands where animals are raised for human consumption. Trespassers can now be fined $100 for the first offense and up to $1,000 and six months in jail for the second offense. Under the old law, the fine was only $10.
Pauli said trespass signs must be posted at intervals of no less than three signs per mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering a property. Signs should also be 12 inches square and have "No Trespassing" written in two-inch-high letters.
"All farms and ranches should have on-site security, such as fences, securely locked doors, alarm systems and adequate security lighting around buildings, storage tanks and storage areas," said Pauli.
He also reminds farmers that Allied Insurance's crime prevention unit offers a benefit to Farm Bureau members. Allied offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information regarding a crime committed against a Farm Bureau member, or the recovery of stolen property.
For information about the Allied Insurance Reward Program, or to order trespass signs, contact your local county Farm Bureau office or call the California Farm Bureau Federation at (800) 698-3276.
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