Stealing nuts may not sound like a profitable criminal enterprise, but with the worldwide popularity of nuts as a healthy snack and truckloads of nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pistachios valued as high as $500,000, criminals, particularly in California have increasingly targeted the nut industry in the last few years. Last year alone the number of cases of truckloads of nuts being stolen exceeded the total number of the previous three years with the cost to nut companies reaching 4.6 million dollars.
Today’s thieves often use technology as part of their arsenal with criminals using spear phishing techniques to hack into the computers of the nut companies to find out when shipments are ready to be picked up. Sometimes the criminals arrive at the nut warehouses with counterfeit shipping papers and pick up truckloads of these valuable products. Other times, the criminals pose as legitimate companies and hire a legitimate trucking company to pick up the nuts and then tell the truck driver that there has been a change of plans and divert the shipment.
Nuts are a valuable commodity on the black market, particularly in Europe and Asia. In addition, it is hard to track nuts. They contain no serial numbers and are easy to transport leaving little evidence of a crime.
The nut industry is busy adapting to these new threats while the criminals continue to adapt to new security measures. Better data security at nut companies will help. In addition, many companies are now requiring photo IDs and fingerprint identification of drivers picking up nuts for delivery. Confirmation of orders is also something that will help. But for now the criminals seem to be getting much more than peanuts out of this crime.