The Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Rural Crime Task Force presentation partnership has been successful. The Ag Crime Prevention Seminar series began in August 2011 in Santa Rosa and travelled throughout the county into May 2012. In the past, rural crime was not generally reported. Farmers, ranchers and rural residents made repairs, asked trespassers to leave, factored in the loss of animals, etc. The crime issue was a cost of doing business and a part of rural life. Today, the crime issue is still present, but the Sheriff’s Office has taken a strong stand through their Rural Crime Task Force and together with the rural community has been combating this issue. Through Task Force efforts, stolen property is being returned, crime offenders are being held responsible and prevention methods are working.
In 2011, ag/rural crime reported was at a cost of $725,736; most from August forward. In May 2012, only five months into this year, $503,592; has been reported. The numbers show ag/rural crime reporting has increased since the seminar series began. The Task Force is asking the rural community to not only report on current crime, but to phone in information about unusual activity. Recently, ranchers reported what may have seemed like insignificant information, but the Task Force moved forward with an investigation and it lead to the arrest of crime offenders and the return of stolen property. Working together made it happen.
Currently, metal theft is on the rise as well as fuel theft, both diesel and regular gas. The Sheriff’s Office encourages everyone to lock up equipment and report trespassing issues also. Marking of personal property using the “Owner Applied Number” program helps in recovery of property and members of the Rural Crime Task Force are available to assist with the process. The Task Force has developed a Sonoma County Farm Watch Program booklet which provides information and forms for starting a Farm Watch Program in your area, the Owner Applied Number program, marking equipment, zone security, fire safety, legal issues, guidelines for livestock owners, equipment security, and more. Please contact the Rural Crime Task Force for information: 707-565-3940.
The Sonoma County Farm Bureau would like to thank the efforts of: Sheriff Steve Freitas, Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas, Lieutenant Steve Brown, Detectives Tony King, Scott Singleton, Brandon Van Camp and Jason Lucas; Deputies Greg Quacchia, Sam Villeggiante, John Blenker, Mark Provost, Michael Mason and Greg Piccinini; Community Service Officers Pat Moffitt, Jennifer Abrao, Silvia Floriano, George Dresnek and Diane Nolan. Thanks also to the following seminar location hosts: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Schell-Vista Fire Department, Two Rock Fire Department, Geyserville Fire Protection District, Graton Fire Protection District and Stewarts Point Store.
Please watch in the Sonoma-Marin Farm News for 2013 Crime Seminar information.