Thieves in Escalon, Calif. made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts worth $400,000 Sunday night.
It may sound like a particularly obscure crime, but Bruce Blodgett of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation told CBS that it’s becoming more common. New rules and “walnut theft protection programs” have been implemented to protect California walnut farmers, who make up 99 percent of U.S. walnuts and three-quarters of the international supply. Because the nuts are rarer and in higher demand than your average peanut, the walnut crime niche seems to be expanding.
“Walnuts are a valuable commodity right now, a little bit in short supply,” said Blodgett. “So, when you have that situation, prices are high; it becomes a target.”
This most recent theft, which cost the Gold River Orchard farm almost half a million dollars, is enough to threaten the farm’s future.
“They spent the entire year taking care of their trees, getting this crop to production, getting through the harvest… finally get it ready to go to a point where they are going to be able to sell it, and it’s gone,” said Blodgett.
The police have no suspects at this time.