Thursday, June 9, 2011
San Diego County Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson said avocado theft has been going about as long as farmers have been growing the fruit.
"But it peaks when the price of avocados is high," said Larson. "So when they become more valuable the thieves are more inclined to steal the fruit. And we're having record prices this year, so I think it's a bigger problem this year than we've seen in many past years."
Larson said avocado theft has gotten so bad, the California Avocado Commission has increased its reward to $5,000 for information leading to a felony arrest and conviction.
"I would say in the peak of the season we're losing between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds of fruit a week over a period of several months," Larson said. "So it's a substantial number, it's a lot of fruit being stolen out of the avocado groves."
He said farmers lose several hundred-thousand dollars worth of avocados due to theft each season.
California's $275 million avocado industry produces about 90 percent of the nation's avocado crop. More than half of the state's avocado crop comes from San Diego and Riverside counties.
Avocados are the top food crop produced in San Diego County.
An avocado theft reporting hotline is available via email at AvoTheft@avocado.org or phone at (949) 754-0733.