Detectives Bust Thief for Stealing Nearly $300K Worth of Pistachios
One suspect has been apprehended, but authorities are still looking for any tips on others involved.
There's probably a lot of high-fiving going on in the Agricultural Crimes Unit of the Tulare County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office, after some of its detectives busted what they described as an "elaborate scheme" involving the theft of almost $300,000 worth of pistachios and a pair of stolen tractor-trailers.
According to a Facebook post from the Sheriff's Office — which starts with the words 'MAJOR BUST' in all caps — its detectives were called to Setton Pistachio, where employees reported a significant theft of its packaged nuts. The Setton workers said that someone had used the name of a real trucking company to get the go-ahead to pick up two tractor-trailers' worth of pistachios from the company. But instead of fulfilling the delivery order, the pseudo-drivers took all $294,000 worth of nuts to an abandoned property, shook all of the pistachios out of the packages, and then sold them to an unsuspecting individual in Madera County.
The nut thieves were eventually located because the semi-truck and the two trailers they'd swiped from a company in Fresno had real-time GPS. The detectives, the trucking company owner, and four other law enforcement agencies (California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, the Fresno Police Department, and the Madera County Sheriff's Office) were able to track down one of the suspects.
Bhavna Singh Sekon, a 23-year-old Fresno man, was arrested at his home and is facing charges of Conspiracy, Grand Theft, Identity Theft, and Looting. The officers say that they expect to make additional arrests in the coming days. And, perhaps most importantly, the cops were able to recover both trailers and all the pistachios (although who knows what will happen to those innocent nuts).
Setton Pistachios, the victim of the theft, describes itself as the second-largest pistachio processor in the United States. According to its website, it can process more than 110 million pounds of pistachios, thanks to its more than 10,000 acres of planted nuts. (The Wonderful Company, which produces Wonderful-brand pistachios, is the country's largest pistachio processor — though with that title comes its own issues.)
Back in Tulare County, the Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about the pistachio theft to contact Detective Bryan De Haan or Sgt. Bryan Clower at 1-800-808-0488, to send an anonymous tip firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.