$400K Worth of California Walnuts Stolen Is there a 'nut mafia' to blame? By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Nov 6, 2013 7:14 PM CST 20 comments Comments Walnuts are hot commodity in the 'nut mafia.' (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Stop laughing at the Canadians over that multimillion-dollar maple syrup heist. The US has its own weird food thievery going on: walnuts. As the Los Angeles Times reports, ambitious thieves stole $400,000 worth of the nuts from trailers at an orchard outside Modesto, California, last week. That would be several truckloads' worth, no small feat. The theft follows another last month near Sacramento in which $50,000 worth of the nuts were taken from a trailer. What's going on? NPR talks to a reporter for the local Oakdale Leader, and the phrase "nut mafia" comes up. "Some of the sources I've contacted indicate that there's an organized crime aspect to this," says Rich Paloma, a former cop. "If you look at how they're taken out, how they are planned, the equipment that is being used, it's going to require some investment." The LAT notes that walnuts fetch $2 a pound and have become the state's fourth leading agricultural export, thanks to nut lovers in places like China.