Nut Job
April 21, 2016 7:39 AM   Subscribe

A $10 million nut heist is a window into the shady, lucrative world of large-scale food theft. Food and beverages have replaced electronics as the most-stolen good in the US. Criminals are concentrating their efforts on fewer heists of larger value, and as stolen goods go, nuts have a lot of appeal. They’re expensive. They have a long shelf life. They have no serial numbers and can’t be electronically tagged or traced.
posted by narancia (47 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Psst! Hey pal, you wanna buy some cashews??
posted by museum of fire ants at 7:43 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


This story focused on California, but it happens in other states as well.
posted by TedW at 7:46 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Reboots The Wire only this time, replace all the crack with expensive cheese and nuts.
posted by Fizz at 7:47 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Nuts are also delicious and nutritious, which goes unmentioned. I'm living on them these days.
posted by blucevalo at 7:48 AM on April 21, 2016


You follow cheese, you get cheese eaters and cheesemongers. But you start to follow the money...
posted by officer_fred at 7:52 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Reboots The Wire only this time, replace all the crack with expensive cheese and nuts.

Kumail Nanjiani warned us about the deadly cheese epidemic several years ago.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:53 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, the contents of my refrigerator are safe unless a vulture or hyena breaks in....
posted by y2karl at 8:00 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Reboots The Wire only this time, replace all the crack with expensive cheese

Paging Thursday Next, Ms. Next to the white courtesy phone.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:08 AM on April 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


I respect these thieves. Seems like the clever type of heist that would make a decent movie.
posted by rebent at 8:09 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


[I]n central California, there’s nothing inherently suspicious about driving around with a truckload of nuts...“I can pull over a car with 20 lbs. of methamphetamine in it and that driver’s going to jail,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. “I pull over 30,000 lbs. of pistachios, I have to prove that those are stolen, otherwise the guy goes on his way.”
I admire the writer's restraint, here, in letting the situation speak for itself.
posted by cjelli at 8:09 AM on April 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


Related is this recent episode of Gastropod which covers food heists.
posted by .holmes at 8:12 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Cases of tree nut loads stolen via fraud [...] in the US [were] valued at almost $4 million in 2015

So ... three or four pounds of pine nuts? I can see how that would be hard to track down.

Also: nut loads.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:13 AM on April 21, 2016 [19 favorites]


With all these fake companies it is kinda like they are running....a shell game.
posted by museum of fire ants at 8:13 AM on April 21, 2016 [33 favorites]


NYPD: Snack Division
posted by museum of fire ants at 8:14 AM on April 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Has anyone reached presidential candidate DEEZ NUTZ for comment?
posted by nubs at 8:14 AM on April 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


This is just nuts.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:16 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I respect these thieves

I despise all thieves. Fictional thieves excepted.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:19 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't let nefarious hands get on your nuts!
Report suspicious activity: 1-866-NUT-LOAD
posted by nubs at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


I have a credit on that horribly reviewed movie.

This sounds like an easier way to make illegal money on food than how we do it up here in Canada, with our cheese smuggling and maple syrup theft. Those get messy.
posted by clawsoon at 8:24 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I respect these thieves. Seems like the clever type of heist that would make a decent movie.
posted by rebent at 11:09 AM on April 21 [+] [!]


At least these thieves are just straight up thieving citizens. Here in Niagara Falls, there was a local Niagara Regional Police constable involved in a similar food related crime:
Niagara Regional Police Const. Scott Heron has been found guilty of four criminal charges that include conspiracy to smuggle cheese and chicken wings across the border from the United States into Canada. Heron, 42, had been charged with six counts, three of which related to the Customs Act, and three breach of trust charges that related to his duties as a police officer.
Not a proud moment for our city.
posted by Fizz at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Psst! Hey pal, you wanna buy some cashews??

"Cashew?"

"Gesundheit."
posted by leotrotsky at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I, for one, always thought Paulie Walnuts was the most forward-looking of the crew. Satisfying to see that he was ahead of his time.
posted by miles per flower at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Could this be the ringleader? (SLYT)
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 8:38 AM on April 21, 2016


Munching on nuts and fruits as I read this. Parallel problem with wine, naturally enough.
posted by kozad at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2016


Psst! Hey pal, you wanna buy some cashews??

Reading this, I pictured a grubby, half-shaven Sir Patrick Stewart opening a dirty trench coat to show me his stolen nuts.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


blucevalo: "Nuts are also delicious and nutritious, which goes unmentioned. I'm living on them these days."

Found the thief!
posted by Splunge at 8:58 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


“I pull over 30,000 lbs. of pistachios, I have to prove that those are stolen, otherwise the guy goes on his way.”

Someone's hauling that much pistachios in a truck you can't ask for a waybill or receipt or anything? But if he had $20k with no documentation you could probably confiscate it, because drugs?
posted by ODiV at 9:09 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Admit it. You posted this just to use that post title.

(I approve.)
posted by echocollate at 9:12 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


"It sounded like a good deal, but as soon as I saw his nuts, I knew they were hot."
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:34 AM on April 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


My fries get stolen all the time. The police refuse to do anything. What does happy wife happy life even mean.
posted by Kabanos at 9:35 AM on April 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Omar: "Where it at?"

(Barksdale gang member glances nervously toward huge Brazil nut tree)
posted by ColdOfTheIsleOfMan at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


NYPD: Snack Division

Law & Order: Delicious Crimes Unit
posted by poffin boffin at 10:30 AM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


I saw the title and suffice it to say that I did not think the story was about stolen truckloads of grown nuts.
posted by AugustWest at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2016


My husband develops snack foods for a retailer. Things like this story give him nightmares.
posted by Biblio at 10:54 AM on April 21, 2016


So you might say they drive him nuts.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:07 AM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Psst! Hey pal, you wanna buy some cashews??

I am not proud but I might be open to the prospect of buying black market cashews.
posted by Hoopo at 11:07 AM on April 21, 2016


Well, as Confucius says: If sack is loose, nuts will get pinched.
posted by Kabanos at 11:34 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


This combined with the theft at the maple syrup reserve and all I can think is that some mobster is going to throw one hell of an almond crusted french toast party. AND I AM NOT INVITED. U BASTID!
posted by srboisvert at 12:08 PM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


as stolen goods go, nuts have a lot of appeal. They’re expensive. They have a long shelf life. They have no serial numbers and can’t be electronically tagged or traced.

And most people are naturally reluctant to go chasing someone down the street yelling, "Stop! Nut thief!"
posted by Naberius at 12:23 PM on April 21, 2016


Or, "Hey! Come back here with my nuts!"
posted by Naberius at 12:37 PM on April 21, 2016


Or, "Those are my nuts! I don't know you!"
posted by Naberius at 12:43 PM on April 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


Or "Get your hands off my nuts!"

criminal charges that include conspiracy to smuggle cheese and chicken wings across the border

I disremember the title, but wasn't that a movie plot?
posted by BlueHorse at 5:42 PM on April 21, 2016


Where does one offload a big load of hot nuts?

But, really, how does this work? What do these thieves do with 30,000 stolen pistachios? Are there retailers who buy them no questions asked? Do they use a similar shell company scheme to seem like a legit grocery source?
posted by DyRE at 10:33 PM on April 21, 2016


It's all fun and games...
posted by bryon at 12:17 AM on April 22, 2016


" ... but as soon as I saw his nuts, I knew they were hot."

Nuts! Nuts! Hot nuts! You gotta get 'em when you can!
posted by squeak at 10:34 AM on April 22, 2016


Your honor, my client pleads nut guilty.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:16 PM on April 23, 2016


ODiV: "Someone's hauling that much pistachios in a truck you can't ask for a waybill or receipt or anything?"

Well, you need to have a bill of lading. But you could very easily produce a false one. Even handwritten BOLs are legal, although they might raise an eyebrow. It would take this guy about 30 seconds to print out a false BOL, and the cop would be very unlikely to do any further checking.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:27 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


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