Cars crowd crops on Rocky Hill Dr. in Exeter

Tulare County Farm Bureau and the Sheriff’s Department urge recreationists on Rocky Hill to leave room for farmers to do their job

EXETER – Late spring is a great time to be outside for recreation, especially after sheltering in place for two months. It’s that time of year when gentle breezes combine with mild temperatures to create the perfect outdoor fitness climate. It’s also when local farmers must harvest their crops or spray for pests to protect their trees and vines for next year’s yield.

The perfect climate for those trying to raise their health and fitness and those trying to raise healthy food has created a perfect storm on Rocky Hill Drive in Exeter. A photo taken over the weekend of May 9-10 showed over 80 cars parked on the edges of orange orchards along Rocky Hill Drive. Tricia Stever Blattler, an Exeter resident and executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, posted the photo on Facebook urging residents to “give our farmers room to do their job.” Blattler said the congestion of cars make it difficult for farmers to run tractors or apply crop protection chemicals which are often time sensitive based on petal fall, pollination and state regulations.

“It’s making it really difficult to farm along this road and deal with a lot of cars parked alongside orchards,” Blattler wrote in her post. “If areas have been marked with cones or signs placed for spray notification please heed those warnings and give farmers a break.”

After speaking with an ag deputy and county officials, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement asking residents to be mindful of parking on private property by following a few simple rules:

– Please park legally in the area and refrain from parking within the perimeters of the farmland.

– Please do not move delineators or cones in the area, which have been designated for agricultural operations.

“The Sheriff’s Office believes that, together, as a respectful community, we can resolve these issues without it resulting in fines and/or criminal charges,” the statement concluded.

Ag Unit catches up with diesel thief

No matter how much fuel one local thief stole, he couldn’t outrun the Sheriff’s Agriculture Unit detectives.

At around 8 a.m. on May 13, Ag Crimes detectives were contacted by a local farmer about someone trespassing and stealing diesel fuel. Detectives reviewed surveillance footage and saw a man drive onto the property with an ATV, pulling a small trailer with a tank. The suspect then pumped diesel out of the tank and into the trailer tank, as well as, stealing the fuel pump before leaving the scene. The estimated loss was valued at $1,166.00 for the diesel fuel, the fuel pump and several containers of Diesel Exhaust Fluid.

During their investigation, detectives found the ATV and trailer at a home in the 29100 block of Cecil Avenue in Delano. While serving a search warrant at the home, detectives found additional stolen property. Two trailers were found with the VINs and identification numbers removed. In addition, one ATV and a hydraulic jack hammer part were found. The suspect, identified as 40-year-old Reuben Cervantes, was arrested on charges of grand theft.

Anyone with additional information is urged to contact Detective B. De Haan or the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-808-0488 or anonymously at [email protected] or by text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.

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