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California nut farmers ban together to fight theft

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ESCALON, Calif. — The soaring value of California’s nut crops is attracting a new breed of thieves who have been making off with the pricey commodities by the truckload, recalling images of cattle rustlers of bygone days.

This harvest season in the Central Valley, thieves cut through a fence and hauled off $400,000 in walnuts. Another $100,000 in almonds was stolen by a driver with a fake license. And $100,000 in pistachios was taken by a big rig driver who left a farm without filling out any paperwork.

Investigators suspect low-level organized crime may have a hand in cases, while some pilfered nuts are ending up in Los Angeles for resale at farmers markets or disappear into the black market.

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