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Police warn against buying 'too good to be true' cheap avocados after Bay of Plenty orchard heists

Police investigating the theft of avocados from Bay of Plenty orchards are warning shops if they're offered a supply of cheap avocados that seems too good to be true, they probably are.

In the latest incident overnight Saturday, a couple say an estimated 1000 avocados - possibly more - were taken from their orchard at Whakamārama. 

The raid came after Lyn Pratt and her husband had fruit stolen on three occasions last year.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan, coordinator for community policing at Police National Headquarters, says if police knew where the stolen avocados were being sold, "we would be on to it".

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    The off-season price has seen some restaurants take them off their menus. Source: 1 NEWS

    "We have information that some local supermarkets, corner dairies may be in possession of what they think is legitimate fruit. However, it has been supplied to them by either a middle person or the thieves themselves," Mr Macmillan told 1 NEWS  today.

    "Just remember, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. If you're able to make a three-or-400 per cent mark up on that fruit because it's been illegally obtained, just think of the producer who is totally out of pocket and gets nothing," he said.

    Mr Macmillan said if the thefts carry on there'll be a greater shortage of avocados, and the thieves are damaging the orchards.

    "We've had branches broken off, we've had orchards just left in a real state after these thieves have plundered what they wanted and taken off."

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      If caught and convicted, the thieves could face up to 10 years in prison. Source: 1 NEWS

      Avocado is an ingredient in sushi and Mr Macmillan said sushi outlets and shops face stiff penalties for receiving stolen property.

      He said they're looking at up to seven years imprisonment for receiving stolen property and the thieves are liable to charges of burglary, which carries up to 10 years imprisonment.

      Mr Macmillan said the thefts are difficult to investigate but police have received a lot of information from members of the public and also the orchardists.

      "We have vehicle descriptions, we have good descriptions of the offenders. Two groups were actually confronted on the orchard in the act of stealing the fruit," he said.

      "A group of three offenders were actually fronted and said to the orchardist that the avocados didn't belong to him and to go away and leave them." 

      Mr Macmillan said one orchardist went out and found a number of trees had been stripped and saw people leaving, "and on the ground he picked up approximately 100 discarded or left behind avocados". 

      Ms Pratt, meanwhile, has said she and her husband have spent thousands of dollars and long days installing security cameras, deer fences and electric wires. But somehow, she said, the fruit was still taken.

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        One orchard saw 1000 avocados stolen, and there are reports the fruit is being on-sold to unsuspecting supermarkets and dairies. Source: 1 NEWS