Rural Crime Prevention

California Rural Crime

California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force is an integral part of the rural war on crime, dedicated to reducing crime through:

  • Research
  • Public Awareness
  • Program Development
  • Legislation
  • Communication
  • Coordination

The California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force is a non-profit public benefit corporation. Membership is open to any organization or individual dedicated to law enforcement and crime prevention.

The Task Force meets quarterly at selected locations throughout the state. Crime prevention problems and law enforcement issues are assigned to committees that meet during the regular quarterly meetings and also in interim sessions. Training on specific crime prevention topics is provided at each quarterly meeting by experts in rural crime and agricultural operations. Meetings are conducted according to the bylaws, and actions and decisions are voted on by the regular members.

Join the Task Force

Contact the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force at

Rural Crime School

Target Population This course is designed to train patrol officers and investigative peace officers, public officers and crime prevention personnel in techniques necessary for effective rural crime prevention, reporting interdiction and investigation. Related law enforcement personnel are invited to attend.

For more information, visit

Meth Labs and Chemicals

As lawmakers and law enforcement officials intensify their efforts to halt the production and distribution of methamphetamines throughout California, farmers and ranchers urge them to remember the landowners who have been abused by "fly-by-night" clandestine labs. The illegal labs that produce methamphetamine tend to be located in remote farming areas.

Chemicals and waste materials from the manufacturing of methamphetamines can cause considerable harm to people and the environment. In addition, the cost of cleaning up Meth labs is staggering and usually falls on the shoulders of innocent property owners. With clean up costs as high as $150,000. Meth comes in many forms and can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or injected. Immediately after smoking the drug or injecting it intravenously, the user experiences an intense rush or "flash" that lasts only a few minutes. As with similar stimulants, users try to maintain the high by binging on the drug.

Signs of a Meth lab:

  • Vehicles used are usually older model pickup trucks, vans and rental/moving vans. Items are usually kept covered up in vehicles. Chemical odors may come from the vehicle.
  • If you discover chemical odors coming from a field, orchard, disused shed or other structure, notify law enforcement immediately.
  • Be aware of boxes or drums with corrosive, flammable, poison placards. Also, laboratory glassware, discarded "pseudophed" boxes or other chemical containers.

What to do if you come across a Meth lab:

  • Remain calm -- give yourself time to think clearly.
  • Immediately contact -- your local law enforcement agency.
  • Do NOT approach suspects -- They are usually armed and dangerous.
  • Do NOT approach the lab area -- Discarded containers, waste and other materials remaining from the Meth lab can be highly volatile. Do no try to clean up the area. The evidence should remain undisturbed until law enforcement arrives.
  • Keep a safe distance -- as hazardous materials can ignite or the fumes may overcome you.

How can I keep Meth labs away from my family and property:

  • Make sure sheds, barns and other structures have proper locks and security systems.
  • Develop positive communication with your local law enforcement.
  • Participate in a Farm Watch system or a "good neighbor" policy with people and operations around you. Keep an eye out for suspicious traffic in and around your property, and do the same for your neighbor. Meth manufacturers operate in rural areas to avoid being seen.

What Meth cookers leave behind:

  • Paper boxes and packaging from cold tablets
  • Coffee filters soaked in alcohol or ether
  • Cans, plastic bottles, glass jars
  • Hot plates or electric skillets
  • Left-over chemicals
  • Used syringes
  • Plastic tubing
  • Plastic bags
  • Batteries

Call toll-free 1-866-METH-LAB to report any suspicious activity that might be a drug lab.

Health and Safety Hazards: Chemicals

Be aware that every chemical substance you handle during the day, whether it is a liquid, solid, vapor, or dust, could cause you great harm if you aren't protected. Your first line of defense is knowing what each chemical can do to you physically and how it can affect your health.

OSHA found that many chemicals cause health conditions including heart ailments, lung, liver, and kidney damage, cancer, reproductive problems, burns, and dermatitis. Such health effects can be acute or chronic.

Acute health effects are those that appear rapidly after a brief exposure to the chemical(s). Chronic health effects are those that appear during and/or after long-term exposure to a chemical(s). Here are the general chemical categories that are health hazards:

  • Carcinogens (cancer-causers) like benzene and formaldehyde.
  • Toxic agents like lawn and garden insecticides and arsenic compounds.
  • Irritants like bleaches or ammonia.
  • Corrosives like battery acid or caustic sodas.
  • Sensitizers like creosote or epoxy resins.
  • Reproductive toxins like thalidomide or nitrous oxide.
  • Organ-specific agents like sulfuric acid (affects skin) or asbestos (affects lungs).

You can determine chemical hazards by looking at the chemical's label and/or its material safety data sheet (MSDS). To minimize exposure, follow the directions you will find there. Protect yourself by understanding MSDSs (Material Safety Data Sheets) and chemical labels, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment like gloves and goggles, following appropriate safe work practices, and knowing proper emergency response. Talk to your safety director about these methods of protection.

(Information provided by J.J. Keller)

Owner Applied Number

Due to the widespread concern for the increase in the number of thefts in the rural communities, the Owner Applied Number crime prevention program has been initiated in our state for the identification of farm machinery, equipment and even household goods.

O.A.N. is a program supported by numerous organizations and agencies including: the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force, the California Highway Patrol, and California Farm Bureau Federation.

This FBI established system allows state and county to be assigned a number which is recorded in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). A directory containing these numbers is available to each law enforcement agency for use in identifying the various state and counties.

This information enables the law enforcement agencies to pinpoint ID numbers within any state and county in the U.S., whether stolen equipment is found across the country or within the same county.

Residents of California should contact your local county sheriff's office for more information or to register a number.

Where should I mark my equipment? It has been proven that thieves are hesitant to take items that can be readily identified. Placing signs, decals, and other visible information warning potential thieves that this equipment has been marked and registered with the local law enforcement officials my help to prevent a possible theft.

One of the key elements in marking equipment is uniformity. Locate the mark on the right side of the equipment as you are standing behind it.

On all equipment with non-removable tongues; manure spreaders, grain drills, auger wagons, etc., place ID number on right side on top of tongue, 12″ to rear of hitch pin.

On 3 point equipment with tool bar, place ID number on top of tool bar adjacent to right hitch pin.

We recommend that you also mark your equipment in another location known only to you. If ID numbers are removed or destroyed, property can still be positively identified by the numbers on other locations.

Note: We suggest that the seller of equipment notify the new owner that the equipment has been marked. The new owner should then locate his number below the previous owner's number, so that the equipment can be traced from one owner to another. Do not alter or deface the previous owner's number.

Marking tool suppliers

Where to buy marking tools

Pipe Roller, stamps, ink, etc Pannier Corporation 207 Sandusky Street Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (412) 323 4900

Tire Brander Myers Tire Supply 7305 Edgewater Dr. Unit F Oakland, CA 94621 (510) 632-3404 or (800) 292-4687

No Trespassing

Rural crime starts with trespassing. Whether the crime involves theft, vandalism or other property offenses, a person has to enter a farm or ranch illegally to commit the crime.

Under section 602.8 of the California Penal Code, a trespass on a farm or ranch is an infraction punishable by a $75 fine for a first offense, and by $250 for a second offense. A third or later offense is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

To benefit from the law, farmers and ranchers must ensure that "No Trespassing" signs are displayed properly around their lands that are neither cultivated nor fenced. Signs must be displayed at intervals of not less than three signs per mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering uncultivated and unfenced lands. Signs are not necessary around lands that are cultivated or fenced. Exception: Signs must be posted around all lands--even those that are cultivated or fenced--used for producing livestock for human consumption so a trespass can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 602, subdivision (h).

"No Trespassing" signs, in English, Spanish, or both are available to Farm Bureau members from CFBF. Shipping costs will be added to each order.

For more information, call toll-free, 800-698-FARM; e-mail

Solar Panels

Thefts of solar panels have become an increasing problem in rural areas. Here are tips to prevent such thefts, offered by the Napa County Sheriff's Office Problem Oriented Policing Program:

  • Map the panels with serial numbers. That way, solar panel owners can tell which panels have been stolen. This will also allow law enforcement officers to prove that recovered property is stolen.
  • Use locking bolts to secure solar panels, to make removal more difficult. Some owners have placed epoxy over the bolts so that the panels become even harder to remove. Other security methods include running aircraft wire through all the panels to secure them to the frame, or placing a weld that secures the panels to the frame or the bolts.
  • Place tamper-evident stickers with the owner's name on all the panels. If the panels are stolen, the stickers will show the rightful owner.
  • Use alarms on solar panels. There are several companies that install alarms that are specifically set up for solar panels.
  • Use security cameras to cover your solar fields, so law enforcement officers can view suspects and possibly identify them. Some companies have systems with 24-hour monitoring, which can help to catch suspects in the act.
  • Place a fence around the panel systems to make getting to the panels and removal of the panels harder for thieves.
  • Contact law enforcement agencies immediately to report any suspicious people or vehicles. Provide descriptions of suspects and vehicles (including license plate numbers) to aid in the identification process.
  • If you recognize suspicious behavior or you have become the victim of a crime, do not disturb the crime scene; that will ensure the integrity of any potential evidence.
Metal Theft

If you're farming or ranching in California, there's a good chance you've been the victim of metal theft or know someone who has. From copper wire to brass valves to aluminum irrigation pipe, crooks are attacking at an alarming rate and doing a considerable amount of damage along the way.

The story is a familiar one: A farmer checks his pump in preparation for irrigating and finds that the copper wire has been stripped and there is no way to provide water to the fields. He makes the loop, checking all of the pumps on the property and learns he has been the victim of copper theft at multiple locations. Thieves have stripped the pumps in order to recycle the wire at the local scrap yard. Receiving approximately $3 a pound, the crooks have made a couple hundred dollars for their night's work – and left their victim facing a repair bill of $1,500 to $4,000 or more for each pump.

Farm Bureau was happy to sponsor legislation to address this issue and was successful in seeing a series of bills aimed at preventing metal theft signed into law in 2008. We will continue to work with law enforcement and the Legislature to ensure that solutions to metal theft remain a top priority.

Use the links below to learn more about laws to combat metal theft.

More information

Junk/Scrap Metal Transfer Document (PDF, 26 KB) Metal Theft Prevention: New Business and Professions Code Requirements (PDF, 54 KB)


The following are some ways that identity thieves work:

  • They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there's a problem.
  • They establish cellular phone service in your name.
  • They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.

How to minimize ID theft

If your wallet or purse is stolen you should:

  • File a report with the police immediately. Get a copy in case your bank, credit card company or insurance company needs proof of the crime.
  • Cancel each credit and charge card. Get new cards with new account numbers. Call the fraud departments of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax (800) 525-6285; Experian (888) 397-3742; TransUnion (800) 680-7289; Ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your account and add a "victim's statement" to your file requesting that creditors contact you before opening new accounts in your name.
  • Ask the credit bureaus for copies of your credit reports. Review your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
  • Report the loss to your bank if your wallet or purse contained bank account information, including account numbers, ATM cards or checks. Cancel checking and savings accounts and open new ones. Stop payments on outstanding checks.
  • Get a new ATM card, account number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password.
  • Report your missing driver's license to the department of motor vehicles. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number.
  • Change the locks on your home and car if your keys were taken. Don't give an identity thief access to even more personal property and information.

Who to contact

If you are the victim of an ID theft, contact the following major credit bureaus:

  • Trans Union – Phone: (800) 680-7289

P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834 Experian (formerly TRW) – Phone: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013 Equifax – Phone: (800) 525-6285 P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA 30348.