Bay of Plenty Police are warning business owners to be wary following recent avocado thefts.
There have been a number of avocado thefts in the Tauranga to Katikati area over the last month and this has had a huge impact on orchard owners.
Police have received nine reports of thefts in Western Bay of Plenty since the beginning of May
Police have also discovered that a lot of stall or store owners are turning a blind eye and on-selling stolen avocados.
For this reason, staff have recently been visiting fruit and vegetable stores to educate owners on the consequences of this issue.
They have been educating store owners that avocados with no stalks or long stalks are likely to be stolen, and asking them to be aware of where they are purchasing their fruit from.
Avocado thieves can potentially be charged with burglary, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
If a shop owner knowingly has purchased stolen avocados, they could potentially be charged with receiving stolen property, which carries a maximum imprisonment of 7 years.
Sergeant Trevor Brown of Western Bay of Plenty Police has a clear message to small business owners:
“By purchasing and on-selling these stolen avocados, you are encouraging these thefts to continue.
I urge you to ask the hard questions, if you don’t purchase from doubtful sources, these commercial thefts will stop.
“Support orchardists, your fellow business owners, and don’t purchase these stolen fruit.
If we work together, we can combat this issue.”