Sacramento Police Crack Nut Case

Authorities believe they have captured the ringleaders of a sophisticated almond-theft operation that robbed California's Central Valley farmers of $2 million worth of nuts this year.

Almond growers hope the bust from late Sunday night marks a turning point in efforts to stop a string of brazen thefts targeting California's top export crop.

A "good Samaritan" who had read news reports about recent nut thefts called police Sunday after seeing workers loading boxes from various nut processors into a rental truck at a Sacramento warehouse, Merced County Sheriff's Detective Vince Gallagher said.

The tipster wrote down the name on one of the boxes, and police confirmed that the packing company had recently reported having nuts stolen.

Authorities uncovered more than 123,000 pounds of almonds and 13,000 pounds of walnuts at the warehouse and at another West Sacramento storage facility being used by the same individuals, Gallagher said.

"This is the break we've been waiting for," he said Tuesday. "This is the main operation."

Police arrested Sukhwinder Singh Grewal, 41, and Amrik Singh, 27, on suspicion of receiving and possessing stolen property, Gallagher said.

Grewal is the owner of Sona Spice Imports, a Sacramento-based importer and wholesaler of goods from India. Both men already were on investigators' list of people of interest, Gallagher said.

Calls to Sona Spice Co. were answered Tuesday by Grewal's wife, Ravinder Grewal, who said her husband had been released on bail and is looking for a lawyer.

"Police have his cell phone and computer," she said. "We're very scared. We have no idea what they're doing."

Grewal said she had never met Amrik Singh and that he did not work for Sona Spice Co.