Ag thief caught red-handed by new tech

Invisible, odorless SmartWater liquid stains hands of man stealing car batteries from farms


VISALIA – An innovative new technology netted its third arrest this week.

Third arrest made using SmartWater theft prevention technology. Submitted photo.

Third arrest made using SmartWater theft prevention technology. Submitted photo.

Detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department Ag Crimes unit, along with investigators from the District Attorney’s office, were working a case regarding recent battery thefts from local farmers in the northern Visalia area. Detectives sprayed equipment with SmartWater CSI, a unique chemical, in the area of Avenue 368 and Road 124. SmartWater CSI is an invisible, odorless mineral-based liquid which has a unique chemical composition that stains those who come into contact with it. 

At about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, detectives received information the equipment had been stolen. Deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office responded to the home of the suspect, later identified as Everardo Sarmiento, in the 14300 block of Avenue 384 in Cutler. Detectives found SmartWater on the Sarmiento’s hands and on the equipment found in a vehicle on his property that was reported stolen out of the Visalia area. Deputies also found additional stolen property from a recent unrelated burglary.

Sarmiento was later arrested and booked at the Adult Pre-Trial Facility on charges of grand theft, possession of stolen property and a stolen vehicle.  

Sheriff’s Agricultural Crimes detectives continue to educate agricultural partners and related stakeholders about this crime deterrent available to them through the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone interested in learning more about SmartWater CSI can call the Sheriff’s Ag Crimes Unit at 559-802-9563 or 24 hours at 559-733-6218, 1-800-808-0488.

Sheriff’s Log

Monday, Aug. 27
At 4:30 p.m. in the 400 block of Outer Drive at Linnel Camp west of Farmersville, deputies responded to a report of a residential burglary. Deputies arrived and contacted the victim who disclosed an undetermined amount of cash and other miscellaneous items were taken from the residence. Detectives with the Property Crime Unit arrived and took over the investigation. Numerous witnesses were contacted. The investigation is ongoing.

Monday, Aug. 27
At 6:11 a.m. at Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore, deputies responded to a report of a burglary. The reporting party advised the window to the snack bar area had been broken and merchandise was stolen. Total loss and damages totaled $2,120.

Tuesday, Aug. 21
Tulare County Sheriff’s detectives are looking for a couple of thieves caught on security footage breaking into trailer and stealing landscaping equipment. It happened around 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 17 in the 32000 block of Sierra View Road near the outskirts of Visalia. On the video, two men can be seen using bolt cutters to break into the trailer. They then stole two orange Stihl leaf blowers and one orange Stihl weed eater, worth approximately $2,000.  The suspect’s vehicle was seen driving in the area earlier in the day. If you have any information, please contact Detective C. Franks with the Cybercrimes & Forensic Investigation Unit 559-687-7021.

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