Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rural California agricultural community forms Farm Watch to combat rise in crime

An increase in agricultural crime is leading another rural farming region to adopt a Farm Watch group to encourage residents to report suspicious behavior. Last year residents in Central Iowa formed a program. Now, residents in rural areas surrounding Lodi, Calif., (Best Places map) say understaffed local law enforcement is forcing them to form their own Farm Watch group, Wes Bowers reports for the Lodi News-Sentinel.

Rural resident Christy Newport "said the increase in crime in Lodi’s rural area began with home invasions," Bowers writes. "In recent months, crimes such as mail thefts from roadside communal boxes, farmworkers being robbed at gunpoint and their vehicles burglarized have increased, she said." She told Bowers, “It’s gotten to a point where you can walk out of your home at night and find someone near your farm equipment. Or all of a sudden you come outside to find people stealing copper."

In addition to posting signs, "ranchers, growers and residents have started a Lodi Farmer Crime Prevention page on Facebook, where members can post information on suspicious activity or crimes to let others know what’s going on," Bowers writes. "Some farmers have posted photos of a man in a pickup truck seen approaching workers on the side of the road or photos of a man in a sedan taking mail out of postal boxes." (Read more) (News-Sentinel photo by Bea Ahbeck Casson)

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