13 May 2010

Growers take measures against crop theft

1:53 pm on 13 May 2010

Fruit and vegetable growers are taking increasing measures to stop people stealing their produce.

Brazen thefts are costing growers tens of thousands of dollars every year, with broccoli, corn, watermelon and avocados among the list of commonly stolen crops.

Horticulture New Zealand spokesperson Leigh Catley says it is hard to know exactly how much produce is stolen as most growers don't report thefts.

But she says there have been cases of entire potato and onion plots being dug up overnight, or apple and avocado trees being stripped by thieves.

Growers have started to beef up patrols, particularly during harvest times, she says, and some are considering closed circuit television surveillance.

Grower and packing firm Leaderbrand Produce of Gisborne estimates it loses thousands of dollars every year in stolen produce.

Operations manager Stuart Davis believes most of it ends up being sold illegally at flea markets.

He says they have experienced fewer crop thefts this year because of an increase in surveillence.