YUBA CITY, CA - In what amounts to a year's production on two acres, thieves stole 12,000 pounds of walnuts from a trailer parked in an orchard along Highway 99.
Although the number of reported walnut thefts has been rising in recent years, the Tuesday night ripoff was the largest of the season in Sutter County.
"What they do is take a break from stealing scrap metal and steal walnuts during the walnut season," Sutter County Sheriff's Capt. Lewis McElfresh said.
California Farm Bureau Federation regional director Matt Conant, himself a walnut grower, said the $2 per pound price of Chandler walnuts now coming in for harvest is helping to drive the thefts.
"It's been going on for years and it seems to be getting worse every year," Conant said.
Sutter County is considering a local ordinance that would require walnut buyers to check a seller's identification.
"Kind of like they do with the scrap metal people," McElresh explained.
Conant said he would support such an ordinance.
"We've got to do something to prevent the theft," he said.
By George Warren, GWarren@news10.net