Although Mexico is known as the avocado epicenter of the world, New Zealand has crept up in production lately. But increased demand and a poor crop last year have caused skyrocketing prices at NZ$4-6 ($2.80-4.20 USD) apiece and what’s worse, an avocado shortage.
The shortage has led to a peculiar crime pattern across the country: avocado thieves who are sneaking into orchards and plucking the unripe fruits off trees.
Since January, about 40 individual thefts have been reported across the country, with 350 avocados stolen each time. If you do the math, that’s a lot of guacamole. Likely, the thieves will sell the avocados at illegal fruit stands to make a quick buck. But buyers beware: The stolen avocados are likely to make you sick.
“They are unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin. But with the prices so high at the moment, the potential for profit is a strong inducement for certain individuals,” local sergeant Aaron Fraser told the Guardian.
The avocado crop is expected to be plentiful this year. When supply and demand of avocados is balanced again, the thefts probably won’t be as much of an issue.