Nuts are tasty and delicious, no matter what the haters say. They also happen to be big business, bringing in $9.3 billion to growers in California alone in the year 2014. So big, in fact, that criminals have begun stealing tons of pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and various other Cali-grown nuts by the cargo load, CNN reports.
Thieves robbed California nut companies to the tune of $4.6 million last year, and now that they've gotten a taste of that sweet nut money, they're hooked.
"This is not anything we've really seen before," Roger Isom, CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association told CNN in April. "We've experienced 30 thefts in the last six months."
Stealing nuts by the cargo load is a high-profit, low-risk game. Nuts are untraceable and are quickly absorbed into the market. But stealing them en masse is also a surprisingly sophisticated business.
To do it, thieves fake the identities of legitimate trucking companies or hack into a grower or distributor's insecure servers to fake paperwork that looks like the real deal. Then they show up to nonchalantly haul the goods away. By the time distributors have figured out they've been duped, it's too late.
Distributors have already started beefing up security to try and fight back against the nut heists—some have even begun requiring thumbprint identification before driver's are allowed to cart the cargo away. With so much money at stake, they'd be nuts not to.