Cargo theft of produce is an ongoing problem in California that investigators believe involves domestic and international organized crime. The state has seen an increase in incidents of cargo theft in recent years, including 158 cargo theft incidents in 2015, costing businesses over $18.7 million. According to the Western Agricultural Processors Association, in the past six months, more than 30 loads of almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews worth $10 million have been stolen. Thieves pose as legitimate truck drivers and present fraudulent paperwork for picking up cargo.

The industry has responded by fingerprinting truckers who come in to pick up loads and sometimes photographing big rig drivers. However, according to California Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, law enforcement agencies lack resources and are unable to coordinate statewide. She recently introduced AB 205 to help combat the problem.

Per a press release, Assemblymember Olsen stated, “Every coordinated and successful attempt at cargo theft is a direct hit on not only the pockets of hardworking farmers and farmworkers in California – but on our state’s economy. AB 2805 is a proactive solution that will aid law enforcement, protect businesses, and deter future theft and organized crime.”

Olsen’s proposal will create the California Agriculture Cargo Theft Crime Prevention Program to develop a uniform procedure for all participating counties to collect data on cargo theft crimes. The program will also offer solutions for reporting cargo theft crimes enabling apprehension of criminal suspects for prosecution.

A copy of the proposed legislation is available here.