Fleet Management

Report: Cargo Thieves 'Nuts' About Nuts

May 24, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Graph: FreightWatch International
Graph: FreightWatch International

The upcoming harvest season for one particular type of food is expected to get increased attention again from cargo thieves following big jumps in stealing the previous two years.

Nuts have become a sought after commodity for organized cargo thefts because of their high value density per truckload and typically low security protocols, according to a new report by the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International

“Since the harvest season for most commercially grown nuts is from August to September, it stands to reason that the third quarter of each year tends to record the most nuts thefts, as was the case in 2014 and 2015,” the report says.

The third quarters of 2015 and 2014 each accounted for more than a third of all annual U.S. nuts thefts. The thefts carried an average value of $215,719 last year, 65% higher than the average value in 2014.

“Nuts will likely gain in popularity amongst cargo thieves due to their value and lack of serialization or refrigeration needs, unless steps are taken to secure the supply chain and increase security on these shipments,” says the Freightwatch report. “As of the publication of this report, measures are being taken in California to create a law enforcement task force specifically aimed at combating high value Nuts thefts.” 

Geographically, California is the leader in nut theft, accounting for 81% nationwide. Also, because 99% of the country’s walnuts are grown in the state, three of the top 10 agricultural products of California are nuts. With foreign nuts also being imported through the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, it’s clear why the Golden State is the nut theft capital of the country.

Fictitious pickup was by far the most common method of theft, accounting for nearly half of all nut thefts. By comparison, no other product has as high a share of thefts by ficticious pickup, according to the report.

“This fact is indicative of the interest already being shown by organized cargo criminals to obtain this product,” FreightWatch says. “Typical scouting techniques on internet load boards for fictitious pickups, such as high requirements for insurance or team drivers, can be coupled with the unique geography of nuts producers to identify with near certainty the contents of a shipment before the criminal bids on a load. As such, this atypical theft type is particularly well suited towards nuts.”

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