Pecan thefts rise in South Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pecan thefts rise in South Georgia

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November 9, 2007

Lee County -- Pecan theft is picking up across South Georgia. Police are getting more complaints about people stealing their pecans. The price of pecans is higher this year, and growers are seeing more pecans thieves.

Willie C. Butts confronts several people picking up pecans from under trees on Fowltown Farms.  Butts said "he said don't come back." This man tells Butts that the farm owner gave him permission to pick up the pecans, but Butts says he knows better.  Butts said "them guys they stealing. They taking. Them right there just flat taking what they want."

Several South Georgia law enforcement agencies say the number of complaints about pecan theft has increased. Lee County Sheriff's deputies have had about six calls in the last two weeks from growers, mad about people picking up their pecans.

Colonel Duane Sapp said "usually they will give them a warning the first time. If you come back out, we will prosecute."

Butts said he has seen more thieves this year than usual. Pecans growers we talked to today said the price of pecans is running from 80 cents to two dollars a pound. The growers have to spend a lot of time and money on irrigation and disease spraying, and it makes them mad to see thieves taking their crop for nothing.  

Butts said "I'm out here having to bust my butt, and them guys sit around in town, figuring how to take something from somebody. I ain't got no use for them."

Most people figure the growers will never miss a couple of bags of pecans, but Investigators say it is a crime.  Sapp said "to just go out and steal somebody's pecans, we won't tolerate that at all."

Butts said stealing makes him mad, and it's worse this year than most. But he admits if the thieves would just ask if they could pick up spare nuts, most growers would let them.  Butts said "help yourself. That's what them other guys are doing."

Every pecan grower we talked with today said there is a bumper crop of nuts this year,  and that there seems to be more thieves picking them up than usual.

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