The Next Crime Wave in Farm Country: Stealing Water

The Madera County Task Force also plans to educate farmers about the best kinds of fences and tank enclosures to keep out water thieves.

Madera County sits smack in the middle of the state, and it’s mostly farms. As in many parts of the Valley, wells have gone dry here and water prices have soared. Thieves, who’ve been increasingly targeting rural farms, are starting to understand that anything water-related is a potential bonanza.

“They’re taking the water hoses, taking the copper wiring,” says the county’s District Attorney, David Linn. “We’ve even had instances where they’ve come in and stolen the water pumps from the farmers.”

Linn has recently launched a new task force so rural residents and farmers can reach a deputy district attorney 24-7 to report crime, including illegal well drilling.

Linn says a hypothetical call might be, “You know over the past two weeks, the water flow on my kitchen sink has continued to decrease. I notice there’s a couple of big drill rigs across the road, looks like they’re very active.”

An investigator could come out and talk with the well driller to make sure they’re drilling where they should be.

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