Aims to Fight Metal Theft
wiring stripped from irrigation pumps, disappearing brass fixtures, stolen
steel pipes—for farmers and ranchers, the chronic theft of metals continues to
be a costly problem with no end in sight, according to the California Farm
an effort to tighten regulations and make the resale of stolen metal more
difficult, farm groups and law enforcement organizations supported two bills
passed by the state Legislature before its adjournment earlier this month. One
bill would aid law enforcement in fighting this crime; the other would clamp
down on illegal recyclers that buy stolen metal.
have been encouraging Gov. Brown to
sign the measures.
have worked for a number of years on metal theft and despite our efforts, there
are still really high rates, so we are trying to focus on giving law
enforcement more resources so they can address the problem," said Noelle Cremers, California Farm Bureau
Federation director of natural resources and commodities. "There are
stringent laws on the books to prevent metal theft and this will help provide
resources to make sure that those laws are enforced."
is no secret that California farmers, ranchers, water districts, government
agencies, businesses and individuals have spent hundreds of thousands, if not
millions, of dollars to replace stolen metal.
Nic Marchini, a
diversified farmer in Merced County whose crops include radicchio and almonds,
said he has been hit repeatedly by metal thieves who have vandalized his
theft has gotten worse over the last year," Marchini said. "The most
common metal that they are taking is copper from the irrigation pumps. That
seems to be the metal of choice for now. We've probably had copper ripped off
from over 30 wells multiple times in the last 12 months, equating to over
$40,000 in damage, at least."
he said, when the copper has been stripped from his pumps, his neighbors have
been hit too. "They
hit an area real hard and then move on," Marchini said.
combat metal theft on a larger scale, Farm Bureau sponsored Assembly Bill 909
by Assemblymember Adam Gray,
D-Merced. The bill would create a Metal Theft Task Force Program in the state
Department of Justice.
funded, the program would provide grants to local law enforcement agencies and
district attorneys to focus on metal theft and recycling crimes. AB 909 won
approval by the Senate 39-0 and the Assembly 77-1.
president of the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force and a brand
inspector with the California Department of Food and Agriculture Bureau of
Livestock Identification, said AB 909 would be beneficial for agencies.
counties don't have the manpower and are not able to check the compliance of
recyclers unless they get some information from an investigation, so hopefully
this additional funding will allow them the manpower and create a more level
playing field," Wright said.
County Sheriff's Ag Task Force Detective Kirby
Alstrom confirmed that metal theft remains a problem on farms and ranches,
noting that the problem tends to worsen when the price of metals rises.
prices climb back up, which they probably will, it will be a major problem
again," Alstrom said. "Metal theft is not really an easy thing to do;
it takes some effort. So, if there is another way (thieves) can go that takes
less effort on their part, that is where they are going to go."
another tactic to slow metal thefts, Farm Bureau and other rural crime-prevention
groups support Senate Bill 485 by Ron
Calderon, D-Montebello, which intends to slow the proliferation of illegal
recyclers. The legislation would ensure that recyclers and junk dealers comply
with current law and are properly permitted to operate their businesses.
485 would require junk dealers to prove they are properly permitted to operate
prior to obtaining a weighmaster certificate from county agricultural
commissioners. The legislation also allows an additional $500 fee to be charged
to cover the costs of these inspections.
bill was approved by the Assembly 77-1 and the Senate 36-0. Gov.
Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto bills sent to him by the Legislature
Christine Souza, California Farm Bureau Federation.
Labels: Adam Gray, California Farm Bureau Federation, illegal recyclers, Kirby Alstrom, Legislation aims to Fight Metal Theft, Nic Marchini, Noelle Cremers, Richard Wright, stolen metal, Stopping Metal Theft