SLO Rural Crime Unit investigates crimes impacting the agricultural community

SLO Rural Crime Unit investigates...

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - It's a side of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office the public seldom gets to see. The Rural Crime Unit investigates thefts and other issues impacting the agricultural community. 

When people see Deputy Robert Lomeli out on patrol they are typically surprised. 

"The conversation will typically start with why do you drive a truck and nobody else does," said Deputy Robert Lomeli with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office. 

For him, being on the Rural Crime Unit for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office is a labor because he grew up on a ranch himself. 

"I grew up in an agricultural community and I was aware of the fact that people who ranch and farm some of their needs are very peculiar and unique," he said. 

To help out with those needs, the Rural Crime Unit consists of three deputies that divide up areas of San Luis Obispo County. 

Just last year, the unit investigated more than 400 agricultural cases.

"It can range from investigating thefts of equipment ranging from tractors to pumps to sprinklers to water line and it can also involve even animal cruelty," said Deputy Lomeli. 

KCOY 12 cameras followed Lomeli as he provided back up support for an investigator from the county's Code Enforcement Team. 

Code Enforcement has been monitoring a Nipomo property that was illegally growing millions of dollars worth of marijuana. 

"Cannabis is a very large cash crop and you never really know what's gonna go on when you enter the property so it's always nice to have that safety net component going on," said Harley Voss, Senior Code Enforcement Investigator for San Luis Obispo County. 

They also checked on a ranch in San Luis Obispo. The ranch has had problems with theft and dumping of toxic waste.

"They understand the agriculture theft problem as compared to the regular beat deputy and they really have been a big help in solving the problem and deterring a lot of future crimes for us," said Frank Rood, ranch owner.

For Deputy Lomeli it's all in a day's work. "It makes every day unique and interesting and exciting so there's never really a boring day," he said. 

For more information on the Rural Crime Unit, click here.

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