Except for the bad checks I don't see any criminal behavior. Yet. If they remove property from the premises then that answer can change.
Except for the bad checks this is a civil matter to be pursued in civil court. So far.
IIRC you'll have to write a cert. letter, RRR, to the person at their last known address and await them either picking it up or it coming back per P.O. rules. Then you can take out a criminal summons and get it served. If you get lucky they will get served and not appear. Then a capias (form of warrant) will be issued for their arrest. If you get REAL lucky nobody will go their bond and they will sit in jail until their court date. Talk to your local Clerk of Courts and ensure that you follow local court procedure.
This is not a happy thing. I'm sorry you're going through this. Best of luck for a favorable resolution.
I agree with what the others have said...when you plan to visit.... load up on antacid - you will most likely be sick when you see your lovely farm, pain pills - you will have a blazing headache and a mild sedative - you will most likely want to commit murder!!
Years ago we had to relocate 800 miles to take over a training center in NC. We let a friend keep FOUR of his race horses at our training facility in NY for free to keep the 250 foot/30 stall barn/indoor track/arena "lived in" and create a presence to the public. 30 days later we started getting irate calls from "clients" complaining about their horses...WHAT horses say we?? Seems our 'friend" filled the whole barn with paying race horses and when DH flew back to NY ro check things out...found our "perfect" barn TRASHED!!! In 30 days!! DH had to spend 3 weeks doing repairs and we had to drop the price of the farm SIGNIFICANTLY!! Our present horse farm is for sale and I can't count the people who want to lease or lease/purchase it!! NEVER in a million years will I do that again!! Best of luck to the OP. The money is probably a lost cause, but hopefully your place is not too badly wrecked. I can't believe the gall some people have!!
You'll be lucky if you don't find other people's horses there, or abandoned horses these people have scammed from somewhere too. Please tell me the utilities aren't still in your name? And there aren't any farm accounts they've been using too? Definitely take someone with you, and don't go there alone under any circumstances.
Thanks for all the good advice - I really appreciate it. I will be meeting with an attorney this week and will see if the sheriff's department will send a deputy with me when I go to the farm. I looked up the TN laws on bounced checks and found that it is a felony (for the amount of these 2 checks) and I am following the procedure set out (sending a certified letter informing them that they have bounced the checks - which I'm sure they already know - and giving them 10 days to pay up before turning the matter over to the authorities). They are willing to leave voluntarily (I believe they have already starting moving horses to some other unsuspecting person's place) and the utilities are in their names. I will keep you posted.
If the sheriff's department won't send a deputy, then if you have to go alone, then hire someone. I know it sounds paranoid, but the only thing you know is that these people are criminals. And if you don't have a video or digital camera, then borrow one. Don't set foot on that property alone. And you need someone to watch your back while you are documenting everything, and taking pictures.
And your friends near there will be a great resource for referrals about hiring workers, painters, or dumpster services if necessary, but I hope it won't be needed.