'Nut Mafia' Nabs California Walnuts

By: By Annie Hauser
Published: November 7, 2013

A walnut orchard in Central California. (Flickr/boboroshi)

Weather might be driving a rash of walnut heists.

In California, a few years of smaller-than-normal nut crops, thanks to unusually wet springs, have hurt the region's walnut supply, according to Western Farm Press.

Enter: the rash of nut stealing that has been plaguing California's Central Valley

The latest crime? A theft of $400,000 worth of walnuts, NPR reports. 

Rich Paloma, a local California reporter, told NPR that makes six separate walnuts thefts in the region in recent months.

"The walnuts were in three double-trailer sets ... apparently the suspect or suspects hooked up their own tractor to [it] and then drove it off through the fence and then onto the nearby highway," he said.

He believes the thieves are part of a larger "nut mafia" — organized criminals who are carefully orchestrating their crimes. "Some of the sources I've contacted indicate that there's an organized crime aspect to this," he told NPR. "If you look at how [the nuts are] taken out, how they are planned, the equipment that is being used, it's going to require some investment."

CBS Sacramento reported that the commodity's rising prices are motivating nut thieves. The price of walnuts have more than tripled in recent years, going from 60 cents to $2 a pound, CBS Sacramento reported.


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