Avocado prices have doubled in the past year. It’s bad news for shoppers, but presents a potentially lucrative opportunity for those considering illegal avocado-related activity. For instance, over the weekend the Associated Press reported that three produce company workers were arrested for allegedly selling avocados for cash behind their employer’s back, moving an estimated $300,000 worth of the fruit in a scheme the AP dubbed “grand theft avocado.”
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, who made the arrests, said the department got a tip in May that the three men – all of whom were in their twenties or thirties – were making the unauthorized sales in cash from a ripening facility in Oxnard, California, owned by the Mission Produce company, one of the world’s largest avocado distributors. Turns out the “grand theft avocado” moniker (we sense a video game spinoff opportunity) is more than just a catchy name: The three suspects were all charged with grand theft of fruit – and are being held on $250,000 bail.
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According to the Los Angeles Times, the illicit sales likely began when Mission Produce changed its distribution methods, choosing to deliver palates instead of having clients pick up them up from the ripening facility. Some customers weren’t aware of the change, and authorities alleged that when they showed up to get their avocados in person, the suspects – who’d worked for the company for several years – began cutting them a deal in cash, selling boxes for around $20 to $30 each instead of the usual $50, and pocketing the money. However, the plan reportedly fell apart pretty fast – in a matter of months: Customers tipped off ownership, bookkeepers noticed their numbers were off, and security footage caught the culprits “green”-handed.
“We take these kinds of thefts seriously,” Sgt. John Franchi of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office told the Times, also adding this obvious tidbit, “Everybody loves avocados.” You don’t need to be a detective to figure that one out.