Are Nuts Becoming The New Gold?

The Lempert Report
November 15, 2017

It appears that one of the most valuable heists these days, at least here in California, is the category of nuts – almonds, walnuts and pistachios are being stolen by the truckload.

This has become such a serious, and common problem that several counties have banned the sale of nuts before harvest is complete to discourage black-market sales. California grows the majority of the world’s almonds and is the second-largest producer of pistachios and walnuts. 

More than 35 loads, worth at least $10 million, have gone missing since 2013; and now has a force of federal organized-crime investigators and prompted the creation of a regional task force. In Tulare County the Sheriff there formed a new unit: the Nut Theft Task Force. 

Scott Cornell, who heads the transportation business at Travelers Insurance and works with the company’s special cargo-theft fraud investigators, says that food and beverages overtook electronics as the most commonly stolen cargo in 2010. “We think the bad guys learned that food is a great category,” he told me. “There’s no serial number. You can’t locate these things over the internet. The evidence is consumed.”