Farmers Go Nuts Over Pecan Theft
DONA ANA COUNTY- As local pecan growers start another harvest season, Sheriff Todd Garrison has a warning to pickers who take nuts that don’t belong to them: pecan theft is a crime.
In a nutshell, the crime is punishable to the full extent of the law in Doña Ana County.
During a recent meeting with the New Mexico Pecan Growers Association, Sheriff Garrison, other members of law enforcement and the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office heard from local farmers and industry leaders who are inconvenienced by lawless pecan thieves. Now that the annual pecan harvest is in full swing, so are the numbers of reports from growers who find people on their property unlawfully taking pecans.
“Pecans are obviously a popular commodity in our county, and – as with any agricultural commodity – they are a direct result of a farmer’s hard work,” said Sheriff Garrison. “These growers invest a lot of time and money into their crop and we are committed to protecting that property.”
New Mexico state law mandates that any larceny with a value over $500 may be punishable as a felony, according to District Attorney Amy Orlando. With pecan prices increasing per pound, it wouldn’t take a lot of nuts to net a thief a good payday.
“Whether these are felony cases or misdemeanors,” says Orlando, “the message we want to send to the public is that any level of theft is criminal activity, and we will work vigorously with the sheriff’s department to pursue these investigations and full prosecution of anyone caught trespassing or unlawfully taking pecans.”
Penalties for theft include six months to a year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000 for misdemeanor offenses. Depending on the degree, felony larceny convictions can carry anywhere from 18 months imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine, up to 9 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.