Rash of tree nut thefts spur California lawmakers into action

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, April 25, 2016

The growing problem of cargo theft in California is spurring state lawmakers to take action.

Led by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, one bill moving through the Assembly is intended to combat truck theft with an emphasis on high-value agricultural loads.
 
Olsen says there were 158 cargo theft incidents one year ago. The thefts resulted in more than $18.7 million in financial losses – more than any other state.

“These crimes impact all sectors of California’s economy, including agriculture, retail, and technology,” Olsen wrote in a bill analysis.

Olsen added that local law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdictional authority, investigative facilities, or data systems to appropriately address the state’s cargo theft problem.

In an effort to address the issue, the Assembly Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill to create a task force to develop and adopt standards for detecting and tracking theft.

The task force would also be responsible for setting up a program to focus on tree nut industry thefts.

Advocates say there have been more than 30 incidents of tree nut theft in the past six months. During that time, the losses of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios have exceeded $10 million.

Representatives of the nut industry say thieves pose as legitimate truck drivers, create fraudulent paperwork and pick up cargo, and even hack into truck routing systems to divert unsuspecting haulers to locations where thieves take the contents.

Numerous efforts are underway to combat the problem but supporters say they need a proactive statewide task force on cargo theft to help address the issue.

“AB2805 is a proactive solution that will aid law enforcement, protect businesses, and deter future theft and organized crime,” Olsen stated.

The bill’s next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. One point that is likely to come up during discussion is there is no proposed funding for the bill.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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