Agriculture

Ag thieves dig to new depths in Salida heist

Cherry blossoms draw crowds to Washington, DC

People are flocking to Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The annual event commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan to D.C.
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People are flocking to Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The annual event commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan to D.C.

There's livestock rustling. Nut theft. Even beehives get boosted. And stealing tractors and other farm equipment is, unfortunately, a common practice.

But here's a new one.

Thieves made off with about 40 newly planted cherry trees in the Salida area Monday night, according to a post on the Stanislaus Rural Crime Alert page on Facebook.

The theft occurred in an orchard at the north end of Sisk Road along the Modesto Irrigation District canal there. "If you see anyone shady trying to sell cherry trees today, please contact local law enforcement or private message this page," the Facebook post reads.

The theft report was filed online and as of Tuesday afternoon had not been assigned an investigator, said Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Anthony Bejaran.

"Based off the online report, it looks like the loss is approximately $800 for approximately 40 trees, and there is no suspect information," he said in an email. "This is the first time I can recall cherry trees being stolen in our county. Years ago, we used to deal with walnut burl thefts, but that has been years."

A 2004 Sacramento Bee article on ag theft said a burl — the huge misshapen knot at the root line — could command as much as $5 a pound. "The swirled grain ends up on dashboards in Jaguars or Audis, or as high-end jewelry boxes. It might be the closest thing to money growing on trees."

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