The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Rural Crime Unit was formed in 1992. It was realized there was a need for specialized agricultural enforcement in the rural and agricultural communities.
The theft on both small and large-scale farm commodities was epidemic. Theft and trespass were so rampant it was not unusual to find over 100 people in a single small field. The loss of cherries, strawberries, apricots, onions and peppers was eclipsed only by the loss of garlic. The first year of specialized part-time enforcement resulted in the recovery of approximately 134,000 pounds of stolen garlic.
Over the next few years, the Rural Crime Unit broke new ground in methods and techniques in the prevention, enforcement and prosecution of farm commodity theft cases. The Rural Crime Unit pioneered commodity enforcement and since its beginning, over 3,000 arrests have been made.
The unit has become increasingly involved with livestock. Dealing with livestock at large, dog attacks on livestock, theft of livestock, and interdiction of stolen livestock being transported through Santa Clara County.
The unit works closely with the Agricultural Commissioner's Office, the Farm Bureau, County Animal Control, the Humane Society, Cattleman's Association and the Bureau of Livestock Identification.
Deputies assigned to the Rural Crime Unit are members of the State Rural Crime Prevention Task Force and network with other Sheriff's Offices and member agencies. Quarterly meetings are held around the state. The contacts made assist in the investigation and arrest of suspects who move around the state committing thefts of produce, irrigation pipe, agricultural chemicals, tractors, livestock, tack and any items which can be sold. Special attention is paid to drug labs on remote farms and ranches.
At this time, there are two officers in the Rural Crime Unit. One deputy is assigned to South County and one to the Mt. Hamilton area. The deputies meet with rural home owners, farmers and ranchers. No trespassing signs, citizen citation books, zone security, Owner Applied Numbers and poaching information have been issued to citizens to assist them with their problems.
For more information about the task force and its programs call (408) 808-4400 or write: Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, Headquarters Division, 55 West Younger Ave., San Jose, CA 95110.
For information regarding the Owner Applied Number program please go to www.agcrime.net