Public Assistance Requested - Attempt to Identify Avocado Thief
Carpinteria -June 3rd, 2016
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Rural Crime Enforcement Unit is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a prolific avocado thief.
For approximately the past two months, a suspect has been targeting an avocado orchard in the 1100 block of Bailard Avenue in Carpinteria. The owner of the orchard suspects the thief has stolen between $2,000.00 and $3,000.00 worth of avocados.
Several mornings the orchard owner would inspect his orchard and discover evidence of theft, to include damaged trees, and piles of picked avocados left on the ground.
The orchard owner reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for assistance. The Sheriff’s Office Rural Crime investigator placed two game camera’s on the property and caught the suspect trespassing. The suspect appeared to come prepared to steal avocados as the suspect was wearing a large open topped backpack typically worn by agricultural harvesters.
The orchard owner also placed motion detectors in and around his orchard. Due to one of the motion detectors notifying the owner of a potential trespasser in the early morning hours, he walked around the orchard and discovered the suspect actively picking avocados in one of his trees. The owner immediately called 911 and Sheriff Deputies responded within minutes, but the suspect had already fled.
The next night the suspect returned and stole one of the motion detectors.
For the next two nights, a SBSO Rural Crime investigator conducted surveillance of the orchard, but the suspect did not return and the orchard has since been harvested.
Illegal harvesting of avocados not only takes hard earned money from orchard owners, but impacts the workers who tend the orchards, whether they plant, tend, or harvest the avocados. Because of theft, the yield to the market is lower, so the profit is lowered, so the workers won’t get paid as much. Also, people who steal the avocados don’t harvest the proper way, which damages the avocados and the trees themselves, which could impact future production and profit. These costs are frequently passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.
The theft of avocados impacts the entire industry which depends on large harvests, which in turn helps support families, which in turn helps support the communities. Theft is in fact stealing from the entire community.
Stores who purchase stolen avocados don’t know where the product comes from, and if they have been inspected and are worthy of being consumed.
It is believed the suspect has potentially targeted other avocado orchards in the area, and has an outlet in local markets for the sale of the stolen items.
The suspect in the game camera photos appears to be between 5-04 and 5-08, and between 160 and 180 pounds and either wears his hat to the side or back.
If anyone recognizes, or possibly recognizes the below photographed suspect, or has any information on the sale of the stolen avocados, please contact Det. McCarthy at (805) 934-6512, or leave an anonymous tip at SBSO Anonymous tip line: www.sbsheriff.org, click on the “Contact Us” link and scroll down to the Anonymous Tips and Information.
For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover
Business Hours: (805) 681-4100