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Avocados worth $100,000 stolen from Far North farm

A Far North man is "gutted" after around $100,000 of avocados were pinched from his farm near Kaikohe.

Graeme Burgess describes the thieves as "bloody mongrels" who took fruit from around 115 trees earlier this month.

Haas avocados from the orchard are usually picked in October and November, Burgess said, so the stolen fruit will never ripen.

"They will be no good for eating.

"They can't ripen properly, they are just not ready," Burgess said.

"That's what annoys me the most, it's a bloody waste."

In the two years of running the orchard after selling up his office furniture business in Auckland, Burgess said this is the first time a theft has happened.

While trees on the outer perimeter of the block still had fruit on them, it wasn't until routine checks revealed fruit had been stolen. Trees with other varieties surrounding the house were untouched.

"I just feel gutted, I want to sell the place," Burgess said.

"All my life I've helped people and this is what I get back."

Burgess said he had recently spotted a man "taking a shortcut" through his property, which he said was strange given the orchard is surrounded by paddocks.

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said they've had a number of reports of avocado theft across all avocado growing regions in NZ throughout July.

"We treat all cases of avocado theft as significant, as do NZ Police," Scoular said.

"Recent incidences have resulted in people being prosecuted and sentenced in relation to avocado theft."

Scoular said the organisation has developed a range of recommended security measures in conjunction with police, which is circulated to growers when theft activity increases.

"Offenders 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 be charged with receiving stolen property, which carries a maximum imprisonment of seven years."

A police spokeswoman said police visited Burgess' property on July 5, after he reported avocados were taken between July 1-4.

"Unfortunately, as there is no CCTV footage or witnesses, it has left police with limited lines of enquiry," the spokeswoman said.

Anyone with information on the stolen avocados can contact Kaikohe Police on 09 405 2960 or anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Avocados worth $100,000 stolen from Far North farm Reviewed by Akande Boluwatife on July 23, 2018 Rating: 5

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