Area man arrested on suspicion
of orchard avocado theft
May 07, 2014
Santa Paula News
An area man was arrested on suspicion of stealing avocados from an orchard off Texas Lane Saturday, just the latest in what Santa Paula Police said is a rising number of produce thefts.
Senior Officer Randy Haumann said police were contacted Saturday, May 3 shortly after 3 p.m. regarding two people stealing avocados in the area of East Telegraph Road and Texas Lane, Limoneira Ranch property.
When SPPD Officers arrived two men attempted to flee but one was caught and found to have 53 pounds of avocados in his possession.
The other suspect managed to elude officers but not until he dropped 54 pounds of avocados.
Police arrested 29-year-old Antonio Morales, a resident of Santa Paula, on suspicion of theft and possession of stolen property.
“Theft of citrus has become an increasing problem in the area,” said Haumann. “Santa Paula Police encourages people to call the police when they see people taking avocados.”
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Agricultural Crimes Detective Ray Dominguez, who authors the Farm Watch newsletter, avocado theft was a “particular concern” in the days leading up to Cinco de Mayo with “plenty of fruit still on the trees.”
He urged growers to patrol their groves regularly and immediately report any signs of trespassing activity.
“In my experience,” said Dominguez, “I have found that crooks will ‘scout’ the area first and even enter your property illegally looking for potential blocks of trees that provide cover/concealment and easy access to your fruit. They will stash the picked fruit in piles at the base of the trees and conceal the pile under leaf litter, only to return later to collect their bounty.”
Those that make such a find on their property should not disturb the scene and call law enforcement immediately.
Witnesses to a crime in process should call 9-1-1.
Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to contact the Santa Paula Police Department, 525-4474.
If the caller would prefer to remain anonymous, they can call the SPPD recorded Tip Hotline, 933-5691.
In addition, tips can be emailed to the SPPD at firstname.lastname@example.org