Police arrested a man in California accused of stealing 42,000 pounds of pistachios

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Police arrested a man in California accused of stealing 42,000 pounds of pistachios
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  • A man in California was arrested after being accused of stealing 42,000 pounds of pistachios.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, nut heists resulted in losses worth more than $7.6 million.
  • BuzzFeed News reported thieves forged documents and faked businesses to divert and steal shipments.

On Saturday, California police arrested a man accused of stealing a tractor trailer carrying 42,000 pounds of pistachios.

The Touchstone Pistachio Company found approximately 42,000 pounds of pistachios were missing during a routine audit earlier in the month. On June 19, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of Alberto Montemayor, 34, of Montemayor Trucking, after finding the truckload of nuts in a nearby parking lot.

"Yesterday, investigative leads in Fresno and Kern County discovered the tractor trailer containing the pistachios had been moved from the Montemayor Trucking lot in Delano to a nearby lot," police said in a statement posted Saturday on Facebook. "Detectives found that the pistachios were being moved from 2000 pound sacks into smaller bags for re-sale."

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This isn't the first time a truckload of pistachio nuts disappeared in Central California. Last August, another man in California was arrested and charged in a pistachio heist valued at more than $294,000. Last July, two men were arrested and accused of posing as drivers picking up a shipment at an almond and pistachio distribution center.

The pistachio industry generates a sizable impact on the US economy, with California pistachio farmers generating more than $5 billion in the state's economic output and resulting in more than 47,200 jobs, according to a March study.

"Nuts are an ideal high-priced items to steal and resell because unlike electronic devices, pistachios don't have serial numbers - making them virtually untraceable," The Washington Post reported.

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Nut heists were on the rise between 2014 and 2017 after organized crime rings stole more than $7.6 million worth of California nuts, according to CargoNet, a company which tracks cargo thefts. Thieves would forge documents, fake businesses, and hack databases to divert and steal cargo shipments of the valuable nuts before anyone notices the product is missing, BuzzFeed News reported in 2016.

"By then, it's already stolen, sold, and shipped off to wherever," an official with CargoNet told BuzzFeed at the time.

The heists have become less common in recent years as companies adopt new protocols to better track the shipments, such as taking photos and thumbprints from drivers, Capitol Press reported.

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