An uptick in almond, pistachio, and walnut theft has California nut growers and law enforcement so concerned that they have called an emergency summit to try to stem the cargo theft problem.
Police say that a sophisticated and well-organized crime ring operating out of Los Angeles is responsible for the recent thefts that have been plaguing California nut growers. Many law enforcement officials suspect that the nuts are being exported internationally.
On October 23, $150,000 worth of boxed walnuts disappeared after a truck driver with false credentials drove off with them. In the past couple of weeks, the cargo thieves have targeted pistachio and walnut processors, stealing loads worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The pistachios were recovered, however, when an employee became suspicious of the fraudulent truck driver and called the police.
According to an FMSCA spokesman, the amount of information publically available about trucking companies has made fraudulent pickups easy for cargo thieves. While the nut industry has tried to fight back by photographing and fingerprinting drivers, thefts continue.
The Emergency Nut Theft Summit will take place on December 3 as growers, processors, and law enforcement search for a solution to the theft problem.