Sheriff's office offers tips on how to avoid ag crime

The Merced Sheriff's Office reminded farmers and rural residents to help stop theft of agricultural equipment during trying economic times.

With gasoline and metal prices rising, theft of scrap metal, fuel and chemicals usually increase, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. There are several simple steps you can take to help prevent becoming a victim.

--Secure your equipment within a fenced off area. Flood lights to illuminate your property or areas of storage help as thieves tend to work in the dark to avoid detection. A chained dog and motion sensors are also a great way to deter someone from entering your property. And of course one of the best tools is video surveillance.

--One of the best ways to help deter and prevent theft is joining and becoming an active member in a Farm Watch/Neighborhood Watch program. Reporting any suspicious incidents or circumstances to the Merced Sheriff's Ag STAR Team is also a useful way to keep law enforcement informed. You can report problems, ask for advice or if you have any questions, contact the Merced Farm Bureau in conjunction with the Merced Sheriff's Office AG STAR at

--You can also go to for up-to-date information and a link to the Merced Sheriff's AG STAR for tips on how to prevent theft, what's "hot" for thieves now, information on how to start a Farm Watch program in your area. There is also a monthly article on crime trends and prevention tips.

The sheriff’s office urged residents to please help stop ag crimes by getting as much information as possible. If you do become a victim, report it. That's how law enforcement knows what’s going on, what thieves are targeting in what area. You may have that small but vital piece of information that helps law enforcement locate and arrest suspects.