Rural Theft is on the rise throughout Sonoma County and everyone who is invested in Agriculture is affected directly or indirectly by this crime. Each and every day a Patrol Deputy takes a report from a farmer or Agri-business partner in our community. Historically in response to this concern the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) created a numbering system where each state and county assigned number is recorded with NCIC (National Crime Information Center).
These numbers may be stamped on farm machinery, tools and household goods. The numbering system is composed of ten characters, identifying state, county and owner.
Here in Sonoma County you may obtain an Owner Applied Number via ACTION (Agricultural Crime Technology Information and Operations Network). To apply for an owner applied number please download a PDF copy of the OAN brochure from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office web site. You may also obtain one from any Rural crimes Patrol Deputy or from any of the Sheriff’s stations and or sub-stations. Complete the application and email it to KMcphetridge@co.tulare.ca.us. The application will be processed and you will be notified by email when it is complete and given your OAN number.
If you are not able to send a completed application via email, it can be faxed to 559-627-1077 Attn: Investigator Kurt McPhetridge. You can also send the application via US Mail to; Investigator Kurt Mcphetridge 701 W. Center, Visalia, Ca 93291.
This program is an awesome tool for Law Enforcement to identify stolen property. As a Patrol Deputy, when I come across a piece of property this is the first thing I look for. If I find the number I am able to determine who it belongs to. If the person I stopped is not able to prove that the equipment that they are in possession of is theirs it gives me cause to detain them further. The person who owns the property is contacted and advised of the detention of a subject with their property. If it is determined that the person being detained was not permitted to possess the property then they will be arrested for receiving stolen property and or theft.
If equipment is sold, it is important to notify the new owner that the equipment has been marked with an OAN. The new owner should mark his number below the previous owner’s number so the equipment can be properly tracked. Other advice includes keeping accurate records of the equipment including photographs to make it easier to identify it if the item is later stolen. This also provides us information that we can send out to other Law Enforcement Agencies around the state. Believe it or not equipment from here ends up elsewhere and vice versa.
In other parts of the State ranchers are placing their owner applied numbers on perimeter fence posts on their properties. This provides law enforcement an invaluable tool in determining who the property owner is. For instance, if we locate someone dumping garbage on open lands and we see an OAN, on a fence post we are able to immediately notify that land owner that they are a victim of illegal dumping on their property.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department Rural Crime Task Force has been trained in marking Farm Equipment and possesses the materials necessary to do so. Please feel free to contact any of the Rural Crime Task force Deputies regarding this OAN program. There is no fee for this program and it has been proven to be an invaluable tool for both Law Enforcement and Agri-Business.