Northland avocado growers are being warned to be on high
alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating
$100,000 worth of fruit has been stolen over the past five
The Whangarei grower, who did not want to be identified
because she feared for her safety, said her orchard had been
continually targeted by thieves and she was selling up due to
the financial losses and emotional stress.
The latest theft comes only days after an industry-wide
warning was issued to growers to be extra vigilant to protect
the new season's crop.
Growers were being urged to report all fruit thefts to
police, increase security around orchards and contact other
growers to ensure others are also keeping a lookout.
The Whangarei grower warned avocado thieves were stealing
commercial amounts of fruit.
In the latest raid, fruit from about 80 trees had been
stripped to a height of about 5m. She said over the last five
years the theft of about $100,000 from her orchard had left
her with no options.
"I'm going to sell up after this season. It's my livelihood
but I feel I have no other choices."
She believed most of the fruit would be sold at markets in
Auckland but some was being sold through businesses around
"If people continue to buy stolen fruit, people will keep
stealing them," she said.
"People need to think about where the avocados have come from
and make sure it's a legitimate source. Otherwise they might
be helping those people who are stealing."
Fruit was still maturing and was not ready to be picked. If
fruit was taken off trees early they lacked the oil content
and although they turned black they tasted watery, she said.
Former NZ avocado grower representative Mike Eagles said
growers needed to take extra on orchards as fruit neared
He said gates into orchards needed to be padlocked and any
suspicious vehicles should be reported to police.
Growers in Bay of Plenty had also reported trespassers in
orchards. Mr Eagles had spoken to Northland growers who had
had fruit taken this season.
He also said if people were approached by anyone trying to
sell car boot loads of avocados, take a description of the
person and their vehicle registration and report the activity
Police confirmed they were investigating the theft of
avocados from the Whangarei woman and said late last month an
orchard in Maunu had four large trees stripped of fruit and
in May an orchard owner on Whatitiri Rd reported avocados had
"Police take these thefts seriously. Growers put a lot of
effort into producing the avocados and these thefts affect
their livelihoods," police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said.
Police urged growers to report any thefts and, if they or
their neighbours notice any suspicious activity, they should
- By Kristin Edge of the Northern Advocate