Posted Dec 20, 2011 09:15 pm CST
A pecan theft crime wave is sweeping across Georgia, thanks to a rough economy and a major Texas drought has driven up the wholesale price of the nut to $1.50 a pound.
With ripe pecans literally sprinkling the ground in orchards like coins, thieves are scooping them up and cashing in on the bumper crop, reports the New York Times.
Enforcement isn’t easy given the size of the orchards and the ease of entry; even when they are fenced, thieves can quickly cut through chain link. Once they successfully make off with the loot, it’s virtually impossible to determine whether a pecan is hot or not.
However, authorities are upping the ante by charging some of the larger-scale nut thefts as felony burglaries rather than simply trespassing, the newspaper reports.
District Attorney Joseph K. Mulholland represents a a top nut-growing region that includes Mitchell County. It has had 37 reported pecan thefts in the past two months and 16 arrests, he tells the Times. Four individuals were charged with felonies.
Right now, as far as the thieves are concerned, “you’re basically picking money off the ground,” he said.