Orchard Owners Beefing Up Security after Recent Thefts

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RIPON–

There are no nuts on the ground this time of year, but that does not mean that orchard owners are not doing what they can to protect their fields.

Cameras, lights, and a makeshift barrier of redwood trees are just a few steps almond grower Michael Fondse has taken to protect his Ripon orchard from theft.

As the price of nuts continues to rise, so have thefts.

“If they [nuts] are already processed, you can bring them down south to L.A. and sell them on the black market, or in farmer’s markets,” said Fonsde.

Just miles from the Fondse Brothers Inc., orchard thieves took more than 140,000 pounds of processed walnuts, worth $400,000, from Gold River Orchards in Escalon last October.

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies recently arrested two men in connection to the theft.

“We only have one payday, so it is really disheartening to see someone can come in and grab a big chunk of that,” said Fondse.

Almond companies like Blue Diamond have seen record increases in sales. Last year, the company racked in $1.2 billion, up $189 million from the previous year.

All the nuts taken from Gold River Orchards were eventually found by deputies and returned to their owner.

Suspected Walnut Thieves Arrested

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