Friday, July 25, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Region’s growers tired of shelling out after thefts

lester walnuts1W

Russ Lester, owner of Dixon Ridge Farms, stands in one of his walnut orchards outside Winters. Lester produces organic walnuts using sustainable methods. Brad Zweerink/McNaughton Newspapers photo

By
From page A1 | December 08, 2013 |

Thieves have taken to stealing the region’s walnuts and almonds under the veil of night, but there’s an ordinance in the works that may help to thwart these rural crimes in Yolo County.

The ordinance would provide local police the authority to pull someone over on suspicion of this crime and ask for documentation that confirms the nuts that are being transported were obtained legitimately.

The Yolo County Farm Bureau found the area’s growers were in favor of such an ordinance in a recent survey, and decided to pursue getting it enacted. Most surrounding counties have identical measures in place already.

According to the 2012 Yolo County Agricultural Report, walnuts and almonds rank among the county’s most valuable crops (at the No. 5 and 6 spot, respectively). Combined, the sum total of the crops’ worth is $90.7 million.

But harvest season for these valuable nut crops is a vulnerable time. Growers pick the walnuts or almonds from the trees and leave the nuts unattended overnight before collecting the piled-up rows, referred to as windrows.

It’s possible for criminals to shovel the piles into a truck without detection when the growers and farmhands head home for the day. Winters grower Russ Lester was a victim of this sort of heist a few years ago.

“We went to go collect the harvest from one of our orchards, and some 50 or 60 feet of windrows were missing,” Lester recalled. “Someone had obviously backed a pickup truck in there, and scooped it up off the ground.”

The local grower’s orchard has not been prey for any walnut snatchers since, though he’s aware that the problem hasn’t ceased.

There was a trio of incidents within the past year in which fellow Yolo County growers were targeted, he said. An estimated three tons of walnuts were stolen between this year’s three thefts, which may cost up to $9,000 with current market prices.

The thieves have varying methods of offloading the stolen goods, depending on the quantity and whether the walnuts are processed yet or not. The large-scale thefts can involve fabricated documentation and driver’s licenses.

“They’ve gotten so sophisticated at a handler level that they come in to a shipping dock with what looks like proper paperwork,” Lester said. “The whole truckload of walnuts is then paid for and shipped out.

“We suspect that these large quantities may be going to places like farmers markets, but we’re not quite sure. The smaller quantities that are stolen, more like what we’re seeing locally, may end up in roadside stands.”

Yolo County has yet to experience a large-scale nut theft on par with that of Escalon’s reported 140,000 pounds of stolen walnuts in November. Those vested in local agriculture, like Lester, are hoping never to.

“It’s something that, as prices continue to rise, isn’t going to be any less common,” Lester said. “We need to take action against it now. It will rapidly spread from one county to the next, and there’s a lot of counties that grow nuts in California.”

Lester is part of the Solano County Ag Advisory Committee, which devised an ordinance similar to the one Yolo County is considering. The ordinance was adopted in September, after the Solano Board of Supervisors unanimously approved it.

Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner John Young said the local iteration of the ordinance will be nearly identical to that of Solano’s, with some tightened-up language as to better allow law enforcers to pull over those suspected of traveling with stolen nut crops.

The Yolo County Sheriffs Department will have an essential role in this, Young added, so the county’s Farm Bureau has reached out to the agency for its input on the ordinance as it has been proposed.

Once the Sheriff’s Department has made comment on desired changes to the ordinance, and after those suggestions have been incorporated, it will be put forth for the Board of Supervisors to vote on.

Young hopes to have it enacted in the first half of 2014, ahead of next year’s fall harvest season. In doing so, Yolo County will have followed the footsteps of not just Solano, but also Butte, Tulare and Fresno counties.

“A big piece of this is making sure we’re doing the same thing here as our adjacent counties,” Young said. “That way, we’re forming a region that all has the same ordinances in place.

“If one county doesn’t put in place an ordinance, the theft will get pushed into that county. We want to make sure that we’re not the one ordinance-free county that’s targeted.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Tech Trekkers boldly go into STEM fields

    By Amy Jiang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Decoding breast milk secrets reveals clues to lasting health

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    California climate change policies to hit our pocketbooks

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Davis braces for six days of scorching heat

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Appeals court upholds high-speed rail route

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

     
    Carwash raises funds for funeral expenses

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Unitarians will host summer camp

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Artists, photographers invited to support Yolo Basin Foundation

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Sudwerk’s sales grow, floating on a sea of dry hop lager

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Wetlands visitors will see migrating shorebirds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    ‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Recycle old paint cans for free

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Where your gas money goes

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

    Americans, internationals make connections

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    STEAC needs donations of personal care items

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Forum

    Trio disagrees on best option

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Support these local restaurants

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Let’s get the bench repaired

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Predicting climate changes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    Clinton’s book is worth a read

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 3 Comments

    Thanks for emergency help

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Commenting system to change

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10, 32 Comments

     
    .

    Sports

    Hudson solid, Hamels better in Giants’ loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Petrovic, Putnam share Canadian Open lead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Moss powers A’s past Astros

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Enriquez brilliant, but Post 77 season ends with Area 1 loss

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘A Most Wanted Man’: Superb espionage drama

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Clyde Elmore: Art in the Wild

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Musicians perform at Sunday service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A17 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Accord’s latest model is most fuel efficient

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
     
    .

    Obituaries

    Mary Lita Bowen

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    James Thomas Feather

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Richard ‘Dick’ Robenalt

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, July 25, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Sherman Home

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Vaughan Brookshaw

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Ciana Wallace

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Jo Vallejo

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Carol Coder

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Diane Lardelli

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Jason Sull

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Leslie Blevins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Yolo FCU

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    David Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Heather Barnes

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Willowbank Park

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Open House Map

    By jboydston | From Page: RER19

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Patricia Echevarria

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Open House Map

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER23

    F1rst Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24