Stolen Property Easily Detected With SmartWater

From SmartWater to Smart Farms

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There’s a new tool that could lead to a significant decrease in crime rates, starting in the Tulare County. The tool is called SmartWater, and Detective John Nicholson of the Tulare County Ag Crimes Unit said that the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has begun using it to track stolen property.

Detective John Nicholson

Nicholson said that SmartWater comes from a company based out of England that has been around for about 20 years and decided to open up a branch in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Word came about the tool’s dramatic effect on crime rates, with double-digit reductions in the neighborhoods where it was used.

“The sheriff was excited about it and thought it could be something that would protect the local farmers and ranchers of Tulare County,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said growers could get their own vial so that they can mark equipment with a mark that is made visible by a particular light only the sheriff’s department has access to, so the criminals do not know it is there.

Nicholson explained it as working similar to identifying people by DNA, as a sample is taken back to the lab so it can come back registered to the property owner.

“It’s a mineral-based tool that can not only stand up to the elements, but even if bleach is poured onto it, the SmartWater will remain there as evidence against criminals in court,” Nicholson said.

“If someone is caught with a tool, jewelry, firearm or anything—and even if the serial number is ground off—if the item was marked with SmartWater, it comes back registered to a victim who has had the item stolen. Then we can identify that item in court,” he said.

This should ultimately lead to an arrest or conviction due to possession of stolen property.

The SmartWater program is available for free at the Tulare County Sheriff’s department.


Reward for Beehive Thief Capture

California State Beekeepers Association, Inc. (CSBA) has reported two new beehive theft alerts and will provide a reward for beehive thief capture:

The CSBA offers up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for stealing bees and/or beekeepers equipment. We take the issue of hive theft very seriously and are willing to generously reward those who help us stop this growing problem. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and check for brand numbers on frames, boxes, lids and pallets.

Additionally, the CSBA owners of stolen hives have given assurance that if a farmer reports he/she has stolen hives, they will allow the hives to stay for the remainder of the bloom. We do not want to punish farmers for doing the right thing by putting their crop at risk. We want all farmers to feel comfortable to report the hives without worrying about them being taken out from under them during a critical time.

Beehive Theft Alert 1Kern-County-Beehive Theft Alert 1

A beehive theft has occurred near Kern County within sight of I-5. The thieves are getting bolder and we all must be vigilant. The theft occurred around January 26-27th, 2016. The hives are branded with CA0330333H. This theft may or may not be related to the last major theft (see below).

Hive Description: All hives are 10 frames. The hives are made of a deep super with a 6 5/8 shallow on top. The hives are painted silver and have internal feeders and a mixture of wooden and plastic frames. The hives are on pallets with the entrances all facing the same direction. The lids, boxes and most of the frames are branded with CA0330333H. The bees are Italians with cordovan (light-colored and reddish) genetics. Pictures will soon follow.

If you are around any beehives you are unfamiliar with, don’t hesitate to look for brand numbers. Thieves often times switch the frames into different boxes to avoid being caught so be aware that the outside appearance of the hive may not match the description.

If you see any frames with the CA0330333H brand on them, they are from stolen hives and you should contact immediately to report the information.

Beehive Theft Alert 2

stolen-beehives 2

240 hives were stolen near Colusa, CA around January 25-26th, 2016. All boxes, lids, frames and pallets are branded with 42-14. Please take a careful look at the picture and if you see hives that fit the description, don’t hesitate to check for brand numbers and call the Sheriff’s department. You can also email us at and we can pass along the information for you.  These hives could easily be anywhere in California by now. It is very likely that the hives will be destroyed after pollination season to cover up the crime. In the interest of saving these bees, it is critical we all do our part to locate these hives.

Description: All the hives are 10-frame double deeps. The boxes are branded on the top cleats. The pallets have metal on the corners. Some of the feed cans and boxes were taken as well. The feed cans are painted green and slightly rusty. The feed can boxes are branded too and most of them hold 8 cans (some may hold 4). The bees are Italian and have Cordovan genetics (most will appear light colored and/or slightly reddish).

Location: The hives were taken from 2 yards, both located north of Colusa on the east side of the river. One yard was about 2 miles from the river and the other about 3 miles from the river.

Thief Description: Based on the tracks, it looks like a bee forklift was used to move the hives. The trucks appear to have dual tires. It is suspected that either 2 big trucks or 3 smaller trucks were used to move the hives.

Please share this information with your club, almond grower and in your community. Hive theft is a growing problem and we all need to keep an eye out for each other. Thank you for helping in this effort.

(Photo Source: California State Beekeepers Association)