SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - It may sound completely nuts, but Georgia farmers say they're busy guarding against a proliferation of pecan thieves.
Georgia is the nation's top pecan producing state. And huge demand in China along with crop-withering drought in the U.S. has pushed prices to record highs this year.
Southwest Georgia pecan grower Bucky Geer says groves have been so thick with thieves that he and six other farmers hired their own security guards in rural Mitchell County. Since the harvest began Oct. 1, they've caught more than 160 culprits.
With the nuts worth $1.50 or more per pound, Geer says, filling a single 5-gallon bucket can fetch $38. District Attorney Joe Mulholland, whose circuit includes Mitchell County, expects to prosecute dozens of pecan thefts -including several suspects charged with felonies.