Aww, Nuts


If you’re looking to take down a major score (as we say on the East Coast), forget about knocking over a high-stakes card game or ripping off the local meth dealer.

If you really want to steal some money, consider nut theft.

pelican capsule 400 The high-tech hijackers in California really have their act together. They’ve got impressive fake documents, shell companies to throw the dogs off the scent, and are proficient computer hackers. The crime rings use the data they hack to divert truckloads of almonds, walnuts, and other nuts like pistachios right from under the nose of growers.

Even if the owners find out quick, the loads are repacked, sold, and shipped with enormous precision.

“By then, when the owners discover theft, it’s already stolen, sold, and shipped off to wherever,” an official with CargoNet, a New Jersey company that tracks cargo theft, told Buzzfeed.

Hijackers and cargo thieves adapt to what’s available. When big flat-screen televisions were all the rage and being shipped all over the place, that’s what the crooks went after. But nuts are better.

“There’s no serial number on a pistachio,” said Scott Cornell, a crime and theft specialist for Travelers Insurance.

Oddly enough, automation and “software solutions” have made it a lot easier for the crime rings to operate.

In the old days, one person would pick up the land line and call another. “Did you get the order? Has it shipped?”

But now the computer, which is easily hacked, handles the details. Growers and companies noticed the rising trend last year. In 2015, California nut growers reported 28 thefts, with each heist yielding an average of more than $200,000 in nuts.

That’s a total haul of $5.6 million. When the growers wised up, the thieves targeted the trucking companies shipping the product.

“If they get information from the truck company, they can hack into that company’s account,” Cornell of Travelers Insurance said.

Basically it’s never-changing game of cat and mouse. Growers and trucking companies are considering live-tracking of shipments until they get to their destination.

But every time they come up with a new solution, the thieves go around it in no time flat. “They know the transportation industry very well, and they know exactly where to insert themselves,” Cornell said.

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