Metal and equipment thefts from farms and oil fields have long been an issue in Kern County.
The Kern County Sheriff's Department is cracking down by going straight to the places thieves sell the stolen metals... recycling centers.
Usually investigators only have tire tracks and footprints for clues, but after a recent bust in Tulare County, law enforcement officials said stopping sales at recycling centers will help stop thefts.
"They'll open this door and cut the cables right here," said Jack Frey, part owner of Buttonwillow Land and Cattle Company.
A control panel for a farm field pumping station is, unfortunately for farmer, sometimes a thief's payday.
"They'll take anything that's loose and they can trade in for scrap metal," said Frey.
Frey said this sort of theft happens almost daily on his farm.
"We've had cases this year for four successive days in a row. Someone has entered the ranch, stole something and left," said Frey.
Thefts like this cost farmers thousands to fix.
"To replace copper wire, you're looking at an average loss of $2,500, between the materials and manpower it takes to get it back up and running," said Frey.
These thieves also target oil fields.
"If it's not locked down or tied down, they're going to take it," said Les Clark, Executive Vice President at the Independent Oil Producers Agency.
The Kern County Sheriff's Department has been working for more than a decade to stop these thefts.
"It's extremely difficult because at the scene, we generally only have shoe tracks and tire tracks," said Sgt. Robert Wynn of the Rural Investigations Unit of the Kern County Sheriff's Department.
This has led to a success rate of only 10 percent, which is why the department is going a different route, inspecting recycling centers and hoping to catch a thief selling stolen metal. It's something they think is working.
"There's always going to be somebody stealing from the farm fields. Can we make a dent in it? Yes. We are making a dent in it today," said Sgt. Wynn.
The Kern County Sheriff's Department said many of these thieves are repeat offenders, let out of jail early because of Assembly Bill 109.
The bill passed in 2010. It's aim was to help overcrowded prisons by releasing non-violent criminals early.