ESCALON, San Joaquin County (AP) – Authorities in California were trying to crack the case of a nut thief who made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts.

The theft, estimated at nearly $400,000, occurred Sunday in the small Central Valley town of Escalon. Investigators say it was one of the biggest to hit the booming industry. Last month, about 12,000 pounds ofwalnuts worth $50,000 were stolen from a trailer parked on Highway 99 north of Sacramento.

This time several truckloads of walnuts were taken from the facility. Authorities say rising prices — about $2 per pound — is what appears to be driving the recent walnut thefts.

No arrests have yet been made.

Walnuts are California’s fourth-leading agricultural export. China remains the world’s leading producer ofwalnuts.

 

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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