VISALIA, California.- In the last week, a $35,000 forklift and $15,000 fuel tank were stolen in Tulare County. Equipment theft has become expected by farmers across the valley.
“We have lost a couple of forklifts and maybe three or four tractors over the last couple of years,” said Owner of Family Tree Farm Daniel Jackson. “That is not the only thing, you lose tractor batteries, you lose little things that you need to make our farm operate.”
This last weekend Jackson’s $35,000 forklift stolen from his farm. The value lost isn’t the only hit his farm takes.
“Sometimes that is not the biggest factor,” said Jackson. “The biggest factor is we have to work the next day so if something gets stolen at night and then we show up and we need to do a job and we don’t have the tool to do the job it is the crip that suffers.”
In the same week, custom-made fuel tank also was stolen from a different farm in Tulare. The tanks costing $15,000 and the fuel inside worth an additional $1,500.
This has been an on-going problem for the county. In 2018, $2 million in equipment was reported stolen to the Tulare County Sheriff Office.
With the evolution of technology, farmers are now utilizing smart water, GPS locations, and fencing to stop the thieves. This, in turn, helps the detective find the equipment faster.
“The more you do to protect yourself,” said Lieutenant Chad Rhyman. “The more it creates a deterrent to try and steal it.”
Jackson said the GPS helped locate his farm’s forklift within a couple of days.
“We are trying to do everything that we can to invest into more security to make our whole farm,” said Jackson.