A booming nut industry in California has inspired organized crime. Entire truckloads of almonds, walnuts and pistachios have been disappearing. But, crack downs appear to be reducing the problem.
Suspicious employees at a farm in Tulare County recently stopped a fraudulent trucker from escaping with about 40,000 pounds of freshly harvested pistachios. The crime is called a 'fictitious pick-up.'
"Where somebody poses as a legitimate representative of a trucking company and steals the [entire] cargo," says Dave Kranz with the California Farm Bureau Federation.
He says the pistachios were worth nearly $300,000, and would have likely been sold overseas.
Kranz says stealing a truckload does happen occasionally, but it had been bigger problem a couple of years ago. Now farms have caught on.
"They will photocopy the trucker's driver's license, photograph the driver, photograph the truck; and in some cases they will actually take finger-prints of the drivers."
Kranz says the extra precautions are paying off.
The driver or the pistachio thief was arrested.
The Tulare County Sheriff's office is investigating the incident, and reports fewer cargo thefts this year than last.