Av­o­cado grow­ers be­ware

The av­o­cado thiev­ing sea­son has al­ready started with a vengeance.

The Orchardist - - Avocado Conference - By Kristine Walsh

Gis­borne grower, Terry Bai­ley, has owned his prop­erty near the city for less than a year and has just a few “gi­ant” trees. But even that has been too tempt­ing for lo­cal thieves.

“They came and scoped out our place at 9am in the morn­ing but were spot­ted by a lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cer and took off,” he said.

“Then the next day, just af­ter 5am, they came back equipped with things like pick­ing bas­kets, plas­tic bags and a home­made pick­ing tool.”

The thieves got onto the prop­erty – “our use­less dog didn't do his job” – and set to work be­fore the sound of fall­ing fruit woke him. He and his partner rushed out­side and yelled at the in­trud­ers who “took off like star­tled hares”.

They did man­age to note the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber of their ve­hi­cle but, as is too com­mon in these cases, the num­ber plates were stolen.

“We've got se­cu­rity lights, a sign and will put in a cam­era to let thieves know they are be­ing watched and hope­fully that will be enough of a de­ter­rent to keep them away,” he said.

“But even that doesn't even take away the ter­ri­ble feel­ing that some­one is try­ing to get on your prop­erty. It’s re­ally af­fected us and my partner is hav­ing trou­ble sleep­ing at night.”

Grow­ers can't af­ford to be com­pla­cent about the prospect of thieves hav­ing a go, he be­lieves.

“You’ve got to be proac­tive and pro­tect your­selves.”

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