Because Northern California is home to many vineyards, it’s no surprise that the region has a lot of agricultural equipment. Vineyards employ heavy equipment such as tractors, harvesters, fertilizer spreaders and spray systems.
But like any expensive equipment, agricultural tools can also be targets for theft. Even a simple tractor can cost as much as $600,000.
California has a law against agricultural equipment theft. Anyone caught stealing can face severe penalties for violating the rules.
Equipment theft is usually grand theft
Under state law, a person who steals tractors, all-terrain vehicles or other similar agricultural equipment used in acquiring or producing food is guilty of grand theft.
Normally, a grand theft conviction is for theft offenses involving items worth more than $950. However, most agricultural equipment cost more than that value.
A person convicted of grand theft faces a jail sentence of up to a year. A court may also order them to pay a maximum fine of $5,000. The proceeds of this fine will be allocated to the Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program and the Central Coast Rural Crime Prevention Program.
You reap what you sow
Even if an agricultural equipment theft incident involved no injuries or death, the convicted still gets a grand theft in their criminal record. This can hurt the person’s educational, employment and financing opportunities in the future. Whether a worker or someone completely unrelated to a vineyard faces equipment theft charges, they might want to consider their legal options or risk having a major theft crime listed on their record.