Doña Ana County

DASO OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO CRACK DOWN ON PECAN THEFT

DASO OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO CRACK DOWN ON PECAN THEFT

            In an effort to combat the rising – and costly – rash of pecan thefts in Doña Ana County during harvest season, the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office will be assisting inspectors with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) during regular licensing checks at area pecan buyers.
            More than three dozen cases of pecan theft were reported to the sheriff’s office in 2018, a number that is hard to calculate when pecan prices fluctuate. Amid growing concerns from the local Pecan Growers Association, Sheriff Kim Stewart collaborated with the NMDA to come up with a plan: provide inspectors with law enforcement personnel to investigate pecan buyers who are operating without a license.
            “Unlicensed buyers are part of the problem when it comes to pecan theft,” said Stewart. “If we take away the point-of-sale, thieves can’t easily liquidate their stolen property – in this case, stolen nuts.”
            The operation will begin at an unspecified date. Deputies in marked units will be riding along with inspectors from NMDA’s Entomology and Nursery Industries Section, which generally works to prevent the introduction and spread of new plant pests that pose a threat to New Mexico’s agricultural and horticultural industries. Inspectors are also able to enforce violations.
            “And that’s where we come in,” said Stewart. “We are the enforcement that can search their records, looking for violations that jeopardize their licensing with NMDA.”                         Discrepancies in records will be the focus of a deputy’s investigation, which could be forwarded on to DASO’s Criminal Investigations Division.
            “We can assist NMDA with their administrative process by providing law enforcement support to their efforts,” said Stewart. “These administrative violations can jeopardize a buyer’s license. We hope buyers who maintain proper records are also discriminating about these sellers with whom they do business.”
            Pecan buyers with questions about proper licensing procedures can call NMDA, (575) 646-3207.
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