Avocado Grove Thefts Reported

  • Jan 29, 2016

According to Ventura Sheriff Detective Chip Chadman, a number of avocado-related thefts have been reported recently. The thefts range from stealing a handful of avocados to removing large quantities of the fruit, stealing utility carts and a skid steer. Fresno County has reported similar thefts of farm vehicles and trailers. One of the most important steps you can take is to mark all equipment with your Owner Applied Number (OAN). Investigators throughout the state can access the OAN system, which can aid in the recovery of stolen equipment. 

If you suspect illegal activity, Detective Chapman reminds you to contact law enforcement (911) immediately and leave the scene intact so officials can gather evidence. Be certain to record license plate numbers and the make, color and other significant details of the suspected vehicle such as body damage, bumper stickers, camper shell and after-market tires. Note the direction in which the vehicle travels. Take note of the suspect’s age, height, weight, facial hair, clothing and shoe type. If you have a cell phone with you, use it to take photos.

Following are other theft-prevention best practices.

Supplies

  • Avoid stockpiling and storing supplies on site if possible.
  • If you do stockpile supplies, store them in a location not easily visible from the road, but easily visible from a house or workstation.
  • Store supplies in a secure location.
  • Maintain a complete list of all tools, including serial numbers and model numbers.

Equipment

  • Mark all equipment with an OAN.
  • Lock all equipment and do not hide keys in the vehicle.
  • Remove all tools and equipment from vehicles.
  • Lock vehicular toolboxes and secure to the vehicle.
  • Do not leave equipment in the fields overnight. If you must, park the equipment where it is not easily seen from the road and chain machinery/equipment together.
  • Place lockable cases over batteries and lockable caps on fuel openings.
  • Ensure fuel tank areas are well lit and not easily seen from the road.
  • Locate fuel tank control switches in a house or locked building.
  • Maintain a complete list of all machinery/equipment, including serial numbers and model numbers.

Buildings

  • Secure doors by placing hinges on the interior of the door, reinforcing interior doorjambs and use heavy-duty strike plates and long screws.
  • Use heavy padlocks on doors.
  • Use a commercial side-block or insert a pin through the bottom sash to secure windows.
  • Use metal bars and heavy screens on high-risk windows.  

Property

  • Post “No Trespassing” signs on the borders of your property, as well as signs warning of video surveillance, alarm systems, security guards or dogs.
  • Check fences to ensure they are secure.
  • Lock all gates with heavy-duty chains and padlocks when not in use.
  • Use posts, poles, drainage ditches or large boulders to block vehicle access to open areas on your property.

Theft-related information can be submitted to the hotline at AvoTheft@avocado.org, or by calling (949) 754-0733. Provide the following information when reporting a theft:  

  • your name
  • contact phone number
  • address or intersection where theft occurred
  • date of theft
  • time of theft
  • pounds of fruit stolen
  • other items taken or vandalized

The California Avocado Commission's Anti-Theft Reward Program provides a monetary reward, of up to $5,000, to individuals who provide information leading to the arrest/conviction of another for unlawful possession of California avocados, or for information leading to the return of stolen fruit, or for information leading to the prevention of an avocado theft in progress. 

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