The Merced County Sheriff’s Department and the Merced County Farm Bureau unveiled a new technology Monday that aims to deter thefts of agricultural products and equipment.
Authorities are promoting the use of SmartWater as a technology that will help law enforcement catch thieves targeting farmers and ranchers and give proof that property has been stolen.
SmartWater products are colorless, chemically coded solutions that fluoresce under a special light. Once SmartWater has been applied to an item such as agricultural equipment, it provides traceability and an undeniable proof of ownership. Every bottle of SmartWater carries its own unique chemical code that is registered to a certain person or location. The solution can be used to mark anything from agricultural assets like tractors and trailers to farm tools, electronics and personal possessions, said Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II.
“The SmartWater CSI program that we’re creating is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Farm Bureau to combat theft in the rural areas of Merced County,” said Sheriff Vern Warnke. “SmartWater is an important new tool that will assist law enforcement in the arrest and prosecution of thieves targeting folks in our rural communities.”
Merced County will be only the second in California to offer this technology to members of the agricultural community. It is being offered free of charge to members of the Farm Bureau.
“Farmers and ranchers in Merced County have a desperate need to protect one of their biggest investments, equipment,” said Merced County Farm Bureau President Joe Scoto. “On a daily basis we are using equipment to feed animals and grow crops and when a piece of equipment is stolen it not only disrupts the whole operation but delivers a gigantic blow to our business. Smart Water will be another tool in our toolbox that agriculture can use to help deter and hopefully prosecute these criminals.”