FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Growers across the Valley are seeing an increase in a new type of metal crime that's starting to hit our area. Thieves are now targeting large farm equipment for the parts inside.
Harvey Bailey is sick of thieves hitting up wind machines on his citrus orchards.
"They know when we are getting our machines ready for the winter so they know we have fuel in them," said Bailey. "We have the batteries back in them, so they get out there."
Over the past two years he told Action News criminals stole about $20,000 dollars' worth of batteries. They're now even ripping out the part from his large machines.
"Batteries on tractors are at least 120 bucks, at least," said Bailey.
Sgt. Ryan Hushaw says there's a spike in similar Ag crimes in Kern County. His team is also starting to see several cases here.
"A lot of the equipment and the commodities are out in the open and they're unprotected," explained Sgt. Ryan Hushaw. "They can access the property with ease. There are very few witnesses around when you're traveling through orchards and vineyards."
Deputies believe the current regulations on turning in copper wire at recycling facilities is causing more burglars to steal catalytic converters and batteries which aren't strictly monitored.
"Batteries contain lead and lead can certainly be recycled for money," added Sgt. Hushaw.
Deputies are advising growers to lock down anything on your land.
Sgt. Hushaw explained, "Some people have welded cross bars, across there, locks, clasps. Anything that makes it difficult so where the thief has to spend more time stealing the battery themselves so you can avoid being a victim."
If you see anything suspicious on farmland, call the Sheriff's office.