A Tauranga family hoping to sell avocados to their local community this summer have had their stocks ravaged by thieves.
This morning Chris Booth was devastated to find 33 newly planted avocado trees had been ripped out of the ground and taken from his family's Sapphire Drive property.
"We had 52 planted right at the end of lockdown. We had to get resource consent and all the rest of it so they had only been in there for a little bit.
"I just couldn't believe it. I saw the first one and thought 'What's gone on here?'. Then I looked up and saw all of them and realised most of the trees were gone."
Booth said the culprits had to have been organised to not only rip that many trees out of the ground but to also remove them all from the property.
"I couldn't believe someone would actually take the trees. We expected once the trees started producing avocados that we'd have to manage people coming and trying to take some. But I never would've thought someone would come and literally take the tree out of the ground.
"It would've been organised because they didn't break down the shelters, they went underneath. It shows a level of intelligence and preparation."
The original planting of the trees was a first real catch-up for the Booth family and some friends after lockdown.
Booth estimated the financial cost of the theft to be about $1500.
"It's me and my wife and we have two boys. We wanted to set up a little business to sell to the community around us.
"It's just the time and energy it takes to plant them, build shelters and look after them - it's a lot of effort."
Booth has reported the incident to police who are investigating the matter. He has informed others who live in the area and will be adding extra security measures to the property.
A Givealittle page has been set up to support the Booth family and help find the culprits: givealittle.co.nz/cause/booth-family-stolen-avocado-trees