Health alert over stolen avocados

By Mike Dinsdale

More than 2000 avocados were stolen after being sprayed with chemicals. Photo / Thinkstock
More than 2000 avocados were stolen after being sprayed with chemicals. Photo / Thinkstock

Whangarei police have issued a health warning after 2000 avocados were stolen from an orchard after being sprayed with chemicals.

Police are warning the public to be aware of cheap avocados being offered for sale after more than 2000 were stolen from a Whangarei orchard.

Last Thursday night thieves stole about 1000 avocados from the orchard at Maungatapere and the following night they returned and stole more than 1000 avocados. The fruit had been sprayed recently and cannot be eaten for 14 days.

Police are asking people to be wary of cheap avocados for sale, especially if they are not being sold through a retailer or genuine market stalls.

The thefts come after Northland avocado growers were warned at the start of last month to be on high alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating $100,000 worth of fruit had been stolen over the past five years from her orchard.

The 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.

Former NZ avocado grower representative Mike Eagles said growers needed to take extra security precautions on orchards as fruit neared maturity.

He said gates into orchards needed to be padlocked and any suspicious vehicles should be reported to police.

"Police take these thefts seriously. Growers put a lot of effort into producing avocados and these thefts affect their livelihoods," police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said.

If people are suspicious that avocados being offered for sale may have been stolen or have information about the theft of the avocados from the Maungatapere orchard they can call Whangarei Police on 09 430 4500 or Crimestoppers.

- Northern Advocate

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