Farming theft on the rise, GPS led detectives to stolen farming equipment

LAMONT, Calif. - Three men were arrested on suspicion of stealing a piece of farming equipment Tuesday in Lamont, the latest in a string of thefts, Kern County Sheriff’s Department Rural Crimes Division said.

“It’s an ongoing problem that is increasing day by day,” Detective Rocky Pipkin, Pipkin Detective Agency said.

The farming community is aware theft is prevalent and are prepared. “We’ve had two prowlers in 50 years both of them we caught.” The woman, who lives in the area and goes by “Joe” said another problem is that the Sheriff’s Department is stretched.

One night she called the Sheriff because she knew someone was on her property and they said they were too busy to send out a deputy, “finally told them, I said well I’m sorry it’s been 45 minutes. I’ll take care of it myself, I have a gun.”

Pipkin also says there is a shortage of deputies especially in rural areas like Lamont, “their hands are tied behind their back because there are so many square miles of farm land here in the valley that you may have one deputy that’s covering 150 square miles.”

With the help of technology hope is on the horizon for farmers. Electronic surveillance led Sheriff’s deputies to the farm equipment and the three men that were arrested Tuesday.

“Most new equipment now already has GPS equipment,” Pipkin said.

He is excited about a new piece of equipment that will also help out farmers, called the FLIR “it’s thermal imaging and it gives us an opportunity to find out from a long distance if there’s somebody in a farmer’s field.”

Joe is also excited about the future relationship between farming and technology, “I think it’s great because it would stop some of these thieves, it cost so much money for the farmers to buy equipment.”

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