Avocados are currently selling between $4-6 (£2-3) across New Zealand following a poor harvest in 2015.
Exacerbating the problem was an additional 96,000 households who started buying the fruit last year.
New Zealand Avocado Market Manager, Bevan Jelley, told Stuff.nz: “We have reports of people driving utes [utility vehicles] into orchards and filling up the entire back tray. Growers are finding blankets and duvets in their orchards with piles of avocados in them that thieves have picked before being interrupted.
“There’s certainly a large scale theft going on and large numbers of it going on.”
Police Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi said there have been “spates” of avocado thefts during his career but nothing on the scale of the current criminal activity.
As the stolen avocados are normally raked instead of picked, they are likely to be sold with stalks of 3-4cm.
He told the Guardian: “These stolen avocados can carry risks.They are unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin.
“But with the prices so high at the moment, the potential for profit is a strong inducement for certain individuals.”
Story from overdriveonline.com