A proposed ordinance in California’s San Joaquin Valley could help protect walnut growers from theft.

San Joaquin County’s Board of Supervisors drafted a proposed ordinance that would give law enforcement officers more power to ensure that walnuts being sold in the county were not stolen.

With prices for walnuts and other nuts soaring in recent years, thefts of nuts have become more common.

Earlier this year, two men were arrested for stealing more than 140,000 pounds of walnuts worth more than $400,000 from Escalon, Calif.-based GoldRiver Orchards.

The proposed ordinance builds on the California legislature’s establishment of guidelines concerning theft prevention, according to a draft of the ordinance.

The ordinance would expand San Joaquin County’s ability to regulate the transportation and sale of walnuts.

“It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter to establish a means of verifying ownership of walnuts in order to prevent and deter theft and to provide a means for local enforcement of the laws and regulations pertaining to the purchase and sale of walnuts,” according to the draft ordinance.

The ordinance requires anyone who buys, sells or possesses walnuts for commercial purposes in San Joaquin County to have a certificate of ownership issued by the county’s agricultural commissioner.

If officials think walnuts may be unlawfully possessed, the agricultural commissioner or “any peace officer” may inspect the walnuts and request proof of ownership.