Thieves go nuts over California almonds
» September 12, 2006 «
Millions of dollars' worth of the crop are vanishing
Trespassing onto property, cutting fences, breaking locks and even hotwiring large tractor-trailers filled with the valuable nuts: Thieves are proving very adept at getting away with thousands of pounds of California almonds.
California almond growers are relieved to be producing a strong crop despite this year's wet spring and super-hot summer--but their comfort level was short-lived as a result of major almond thefts in the Central Valley during the ongoing harvest.
Law enforcement officials are certain pros are at work.
"These guys know what they're doing," says Cliff Emery of ACTION (Agricultural Crime Technology Information and Operations Network). "They are experienced in handling truckloads of commodities and come with the specific intent of stealing thousands of pounds of almonds."
So far, the "nut nappers" are focusing their efforts on the Central Valley and have taken close to $1.5 million worth of almonds that were to be shipped overseas. Growers and sheriff's deputies along with the California Farm Bureau are stepping up their efforts to combat the increasing problems. California growers are taking such preventive measures as upgrading security systems, employing security guards at night and locking containers in warehouses to thwart the efforts of the thieves.
"Taking the steps necessary to stop criminal activity is one of the most important projects a grower can tackle," explained Danielle Rau, who directs the Farm Bureau Rural Crime Prevention program. "We applaud local law-enforcement officials and ACTION for their efforts to help our family farmers protect their properties and the fruits of their labor."
With the world's insatiable appetite for the tasty and nutritious nuts, and the added benefit of growing a crop that requires less labor, many California farmers have decided to switch from other crops to almonds. In 2004-05, the state produced $2.2 billion worth of the nuts--approximately 80 percent of the world's supply of almonds.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 88,000 members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top