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Marking equipment can reduce thefts

Due to the widespread concern for the increase in the number of thefts in California’s rural communities, the Owner Applied Number (OAN) crime prevention program is available to farmers for the identification of farm machinery, equipment and even household goods.

This FBI established system allows a state and county to be assigned a number which is recorded in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). A directory containing these numbers is available to each law enforcement agency for use in identifying the various state and counties.

The ACTION Project issues OANs for 45 of California's county sheriff's departments. Rural residents can sign up for an OAN by going to This information enables law enforcement agencies to pinpoint ID numbers within any state and county in the U.S., whether stolen equipment is found across the country or within the same county.

In California, the OAN ID system uses 10 characters, which identify the state, county, and business. The coded identification number allows local law enforcement to identify stolen property and contact the owner.

The OAN’s are most often hand stamped using 1/8-inch or ¼-inch letters and numbers on heavy equipment and will not generally be as large or precise as those applied by the manufacturer. One of the key elements in marking equipment is uniformity. Locate the OAN on the right side of the equipment as you are standing behind it. On all equipment with non-removable tongues; manure spreaders, grain drills, auger wagons, etc., place the OAN on right side on top of tongue, 12 inches to rear of hitch pin. On 3-point equipment with a tool bar, place the OAN on top of tool bar adjacent to right hitch pin.

For additional information on stamping equipment a brochure can be downloaded at:

It is also recommended that you also mark equipment in another location known only to the owner. If the OAN’s are removed or destroyed, property can still be positively identified by the OAN’s located elsewhere.

It has been proven that thieves are hesitant to take items that can be readily identified. Placing signs, decals, and other visible information warning potential thieves that this equipment has been marked and registered with the local law enforcement officials my help to prevent a possible theft.

It is suggested that the seller of equipment notify the new owner that the equipment has been marked. The new owner should then locate and stamp their number below the previous owner's number, so that the equipment can be traced from one owner to another. Do not alter or deface the previous owner's OAN.

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