Up to 350 avocados have been stolen per incident, with the crop ‘raked’ from the tree or hand-picked and sold to shops in Auckland and surrounds.
“It’s an easy way to make a quick buck, but I don’t think we are dealing with a sophisticated or highly organised operation here, more opportunistic,” said New Zealand Avocado CEO, Jen Scoular.
“This stolen fruit will only have made it to the local markets, it would never reach our export markets.”
Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi added: “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.”
Avocados are selling for between four and six NZ dollars each. The hefty increase in price since 2015 has not stopped an additional 96,000 New Zealand households from purchasing them.