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Georgia Pecan Farmers Face Looters After Price Peak

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- After a season of record-high prices, pecan farmers in Georgia are trying to protect their crops from looters intent on swiping the pricey nuts.

The spike in pecan prices was due, in part, to shortages in states such as Oklahoma and Texas. While the rise in pecan prices has meant bigger profits for Georgia farmers, it has also led to an increase in pecan thefts.

Lawrence Wright, the deputy chief major at the Fort Valley Police Department, says pecan thefts happen every year, but this year there’s been a marked rise in complaints and arrests, as prices per pound went up to more than $3 for raw uncleaned pecans and up to $11 for shelled pecans available at grocery stores.

Duke Lane, the president of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association, says that the size and layout of orchards in Georgia make it difficult for growers to protect their land from looters.

In addition to people trespassing on farms, Lane said he has heard of people breaking into warehouses and even attempting to hitch a wagon of pecans to their truck.

As the picking season comes to a close, Lane says he and other members of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association are looking into permanent protections including hiring patrols, using more signs, and even lobbying local politicians to increase penalties for trespassing to steal pecans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio