OCHLOCKNEE, GA (WALB) - Pecan growers want you to know when nuts fall alongside roads, they're not free for the taking.
It's harvest time for pecans, and Thomas County Sheriff's deputies said they get calls almost daily of pecan theft.
"If it's my trees then they're my nuts," said Jim Thompson, owner of Thompson Pecan Company in Ochlocknee.
Thompson said most of the thefts he encounters occur between October and January, a prime time to get your hands on pecans.
Thompson said, “It's always been a problem for pecan producers, but since the prices are like they are, I think it's more enticing for people to pick up something they know is not theirs.”
He said a pound of pecans ranges from 50 cents up to $3.
He thinks more people are wanting to make an extra buck, especially around the holiday season, so they target these pecan groves.
Thomas County Sheriff's deputies arrested Steven Joiner and Allen Adams earlier this week after one pecan farm owner spotted them stealing his crops.
Captain Steve Jones said, “It's a theft. It's private property. These nuts are crops. This is their crop and this is what they've worked all year for. It's theirs.”
Thompson said most of the thefts occur when the pecans fall from the trees onto the roads.
But those nuts still belong to the farms.
Captain Jones said, “People don't think they're breaking the law and they see an orchard that's out in the middle of nowhere and just say, 'Hey, I'm going to go pick me up 50 or so pounds of pecans. There's nobody out here so I'll just take them.'”
Jones said this ignorance to the law could put you behind bars, charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount of pecans stolen.
Regardless of where the nuts are found, Jones said they belong to the owner of that tree.