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Trends of Nut Theft in California

Discuss about the Theft in California Nut Industry for WAPA.

With the current tough economic times worldwide, many people are coming up with alternative ways to try and make a quick dollar. These people do not care much whether what they are doing is legal or not. The extreme economic difficulties have led to the increase in the rate of illegal activities worldwide. One of those activities is theft. Theft as defined by McGranahan ( 2015), is the act of taking something that does not belong to you, without the permission of the owner. There have been many standard items that thieves have been using in stealing. This includes money jewelry, cars and surprisingly nuts. A surprising study carried out by Cavanaugh (2008) indicated that recently the number of theft cases on nuts were almost twice the number of car theft cases.

This report will be based on theft of nuts which include Almonds, Pistachios and other high-value nuts in the state of California.The theft could occur in 3 different ways which include nut processor theft,  nut farms being ravaged by thieves and lastly through truckloads. Research by Walnuts (2011), indicated that More than 30 trucks of different nuts including almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, and walnuts were reported to have been stolen from nut growers and processors in the last six months at central California. Thieves were seen to have successfully manipulated the long chain of processes between the farmers and the retailers and made off with a product whose value can be estimated at around $10 million, these events have surprised both the farmers and law enforcement.

“All we’ve seen in the past is in orchard theft, where guys take a bucket and go sell them at the farmers’ market. We’ve never seen anything like this,” this were the words used by Roger Isom, president of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) when commenting on the situation.

California is the leading agricultural producer in the United States of America but has been recently affected by outstanding, sophisticated criminal organizations. There has been theft of agricultural products and also theft of the equipment used in the farms; it has dramatically affected the farmers. In California, cargo theft specialist indicates that the nuts can't be tracked and to add to this using the databases for tracking cargos is accessed by thieves which could be $500,000 per load.It's important to note that in some cases it was reported that the syndicate work hand in hand with the authorities and the shipping companies.

Methods Used by Criminals to Steal Nuts

It can be seen that more than 30 Lorries carrying cashews, pecans, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts were stolen from farmers growing the nuts and the nut processors in California. Thieves have gotten in the complicated chain that links the retailers, and the farmers have amassed over $10 million in their productions, which has surprised the farmers and police.

The farmers are supplied with the raw materials which include seeds, fertilizers and farm equipment to prepare and plant the nuts. When they are ready, they are harvested and stored or can be taken directly to the processing factories. After the nuts are processed, a trucking company is hired for the commodity to reach the distributors.

In the previous year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of nuts have been stolen each year. Most of the robbery did not involve thieves breaking in a warehouse, but the thieves are using the industries vulnerability to their advantage through cargo theft. The thieves trick the distributors into giving them the cargo. Without knowing the distributors fall into the trap and in turn lose the cargo to the thieves.

To successfully trick the criminals, the distributors only need a laptop or computer and a cell phone. The thieves use the identity of a legitimate trucking company and change the contact information; this would be difficult for the distributors to detect a problem thus they end up gifting the goods to the thieves. After replacing the contact info of the legitimate trucking company they then file an application online to pick up the nut. They then reach the pickup point to collect the nuts and later go missing. After some time the distributors try to contact the trucking company they conducted their business with but find that the line they are calling disconnected and that’s when they realized that they had been tricked into gifting away the nuts.

There is also another common method that the thieves use to take the nuts which is known as a fictitious pickup. In this method, the thieves arrive earlier at the pickup point before the trucking company comes to collect the nuts. They trick the distributors into seeing them as the legitimate trucking company through paperwork that they have falsified. In other cases, trucks that have no information about what is happening are tricked into collecting the nuts and are paid immediately.

Thieves also hijack unattended trucks, and at times they may decide to load the cargo into their trucks or decide to steal the whole truck and drive away with them. Most of the time the thieves may choose to drive the stolen trailers for short distances so that they can continue with offloading the goods (Grant,2014).

Preventing Nut Theft at Every Stage of the Supply Chain

There is also another method that thieves steal the nuts. A trucking company may have a connection with thieves of the nuts and may decide to bid for cargo that is not within the areas that they are used to. The cargo is then stolen, and the trucking company defends themselves by stating that they had no involvement in the robbery and that someone leaked their identity.

Table numerically demonstrating the value of the Californian nut industry

YEAR

Billion(Dollars)

Growth %

2006

5.9

2007

7.2

23.7

2008

7.1

1.6

2009

6.1

14.2

2010

7.2

18.2

2006-2010

5.4

Source (California Department of Food and Agriculture,2011)

Table numerically demonstrating the cost theft to the Californian nut industry

Year

Million $

2012

0.5

2013

0.3

2014

0.7

2015

4

Source (California Department of Food and Agriculture,2011)

Nut theft can be prevented at every stage of the supply chain. To avoid theft nut in material input and supply it is required that the farmer collects the seeds and fertilizers by him or herself. They later plant the seeds. After the nuts have matured, they harvest and later take them for processing. After the processing, a trucking company is hired for the commodity to reach the distributors. At this point, one is required to verify the identity of the truckers, and the truckers are also expected to observe safety by parking in secure locations and also use covert tracking devices (McGranahan. 2015).

The tree nut law enforcement should partner with the nut industry that is farmers and the processing companies to develop better protocols to safeguard the product.It's also important to recommend better software/database for the logistics to safeguard the supply chain of the nut from the industries. So far Westen Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) and the American Pistachio Growers Associations have been holding meetings on how to curb these crimes hitting the nut industry in California. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, nut theft has been on the rise in California due to the high value of nuts, and it is also a contributor to the economy. It can be noted that thieves use different techniques to steal the nuts. Therefore it is required that one verify the identity of the trucking company and drivers well to prevent lose of goods.

References

  1. Walnuts. University of California Cooperative Extension Kings County. Cavanaugh, P. 2008a. Clonal walnut planting follow-up: Growers shed light on their experiences. Pages 8-12, 46  Pacific Nut Producers. https://cekings.ucdavis.edu/files/19345.pdf

Cavanah, P. 2008b. Walnut clone plantings: Containerized stocks need careful consideration. Pages 4, 22-25  Pacific Nut Producer. https://cekings.ucdavis.edu/files/19292.pdf

California Department of Food and Agriculture (2011). Walnut/Raisin/Prune Report State Summary- 2011 Crop Year (https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/201210wrp.pdf )

Chandel, J.S., Gautam, D.R., Sharma, N.C. (2006) Chip budding: an excellent method of propagation of walnut (Juglans regia L.). Acta Horticulturae. 705:335-339

Connell, J. H., Olson, B., Limberg, J., & Metcalf, S. (2006). Evaluation of 'Chandler' walnut on its own roots and grafted to various rootstocks. University of California Cooperative Extension.

DeBuse, C., R. Buchner, B. Lampinen, G. McGranahan, C. Leslie, D. Ramos, S. Metcalf, W. Hackett, C. Gilles, and F. Spanfelner. 2010. 2010 Walnut clonal Paradox rootstock trials in northern California. University of California Cooperative Extension, Oakland. https://walnutresearch.ucdavis.edu/2010/2010_59.pdf

Grant, J. A. 2014. English walnut rootstocks help avoid blackline disease, but produce less than 'Paradox' hybrid. California Agriculture:249-251. https://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/391-51.pdf

McGranahan. 2015. English walnut rootstocks help avoid blackline disease, but produce less than 'Paradox' hybrid. California Agriculture:249-251. https://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/391-51.pdf

Hackett, W., C. Leslie, J. Grant, B. Lampinen, G. McGranahan, K. Anderson, B. Beede, R. Buchner, J. Caprile, C. DeBuse, J. Hasey, N. Manterola, R. Robinson, D. Kluepfel, G. Browne, and M. McKenry. 2010. Clonal propagation of walnut rootstock genotypes for genetic improvement Retrieved July 20, 2011. UC Davis walnut research reports: https://walnutresearch.ucdavis.edu/2010/2010_65.pdf

Hartmann, H. T., & Beutel, J. A. (1979). Propagation of temperate-zone fruit plants. Oakland: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 21103.

Resnick,p. (2000).Agricultural Systems Communication of the ASC,43(12),45-48

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