Tags: Homeland Security | U.S. State Facts

Combatting Calif. Nut Thefts

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Monday, 14 Dec 2015 11:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

When I first read that thieves were stealing California nuts I was overjoyed. My first thought was now Republicans might be able to elect some new members of the legislature.

Unfortunately, the state isn’t losing wacky politicians — what thief in his right mind would steal one? — it’s losing our delicious pistachios and walnuts.

Most readers are under the impression that aside from terror and insults, Iran is the world’s largest producer of pistachio nuts.

This is true, but the U.S. is number two, harvesting 120,000 tons each year.

It was bad enough when nut growers were worried about the drought harming production, but now even the nuts that are harvested are at risk.

Stealing nuts isn’t like the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture demanding the surrender of part of a raisin crop to keep consumer prices high. And it doesn’t resemble a liquor stick–up that produces peanuts or a highway hijacking.

Instead, if it’s any consolation to the farmer, CNBC.com explains nuts are “increasingly a target of sophisticated crime rings.”

The value of the load is worth the extra effort: “ . . . pistachio and walnut processors were hit by cargo thefts in Tulare County, and the loads were valued at approximately $300,000 apiece.”

Thieves, who have access to a tractor and trailer, arrive at a nut processor to pick up a load.

They present documents using the name of trucking firms that have gone out of business and other relevant information gleaned from publicly available databases or the U.S. Dept. of Transportation site.

According to Sheriff’s Detective Chad Parker, “"I've traced walnuts that were stolen in my county to LA, and they were then transported to Detroit where they were being sold in bakeries and in a storefront."

Other purloined cargo is destined for the lucrative export market, concealed among the $8 billion of nuts that went to overseas ports in 2014.

Stopping all theft is a tough nut to crack, but producers aren’t waiting for the government to do something. Instead they are taking measures on their own. “At least one truckload of about 40,000 pounds of pistachios was saved, however, when an alert employee at Setton Farms — the nation's second-largest pistachio processor — contacted authorities about a suspicious driver.”

Producers are also requiring truckers to be fingerprinted and photographed before releasing loads and document checks are much more stringent.

Tech savvy farmers are hiding “radio–frequency identification tags to track cargo loads.”

Those self–reliant solutions are all better than waiting for Sacramento to act.

I certainly wish them success and hope California nut growers can get back to a time when squirrels are the greatest nut theft menace their farms face.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

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Stopping all theft is tough to crack, but producers aren’t waiting for the government to do something. Instead they are taking measures on their own.
Homeland Security, U.S. State Facts
Monday, 14 Dec 2015 11:36 AM
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