Here are three things you can do today to protect your employees…
By Dr. Michael Payne, UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine; Director, CDQAP
A particularly concerning crime trend for producers is the apparent increasing frequency of armed robbery of dairy employees, typically at night. There was the deeply disturbing April 2020 robberies of two Gustine area dairies that left one employee dead and another in intensive care. In October of 2021, there were a rash of thefts from Hilmar area dairies that included vehicle break-ins and theft, and at least one incident of robbery where a dairy employee was lured out to the road to assist with a stalled car and subsequently robbed. In March of this year there was a spree of armed robberies on five Pixley area dairies, where thirteen victims were robbed of personal items like
wallets, phones, and jewelry, and a vehicle was carjacked.
Producers understandably want to know what actions they can take to protect their employees. CDQAP put that question to a cadre of law enforcement experts from various law enforcement agencies. This included sheriff ‘s offices, the Central California Intelligence Center (CCIC, one of several state intelligence “Fusion Centers”), and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
There are so many crime mitigation steps that can be taken, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. When asked about low-hanging-fruit however, law enforcement experts recommend starting with these actions:
Educate Your Employees
Unanimously all experts agreed that the most important action is to discuss security with employees. Training can occur independently or as part of regularly scheduled OSHA workplace training. Employees should be empowered to approach strangers on the dairy and report suspicious people or vehicles to the farm manager. Discussion should also address what employees should do during an actual robbery. Employees should comply with robbers’ instructions at all times and afterwards immediately call 911. Reassure employees that their immigration status won’t be effected by assisting the sheriff ‘s department.
Engage With Local Law Enforcement
Most rural Sheriff ’s departments in California have ag crime divisions that are part of California’s Rural Crime Prevention Task Force (CRCPTF). Typically, local sheriff ‘s task force members help organize and train local Farm Watch groups. These partnerships help coordinate information exchange, actions and training in both directions. Producers are taught how to identify suspicious persons or circumstances, document and report incidents, and identify equipment. You can locate existing Farm Watch groups here, or start your own. Alternatively, producers can simply give their county Sheriff ’s office a call and ask how to get involved and receive local crime bulletins.
Always Report Crime
Reporting rural crime, whether it’s on your property or nearby, protects your neighbors by helping sheriff ’s departments to identify crime
patterns and active criminal groups. It also allows local law enforcement offices to share emerging problems with interested community groups like Farm Watch, dairy trade organizations, and security groups on social media, like Facebook.
Depending on what the primary local crime problems are (metal theft, fuel theft, solar panel theft, illegal dumping, etc.), there are specific measures producers can take. In addition, on June 8, in collaboration with Zenith Insurance Company, CDQAP will offer a webinar with a panel of law enforcement experts that will deal specifically with dairy security. Watch this and other industry newsletters for more
information about the upcoming webinar.