What is the most middle class crime? Hacking your Sky box for free TV? Rolling the clock back on your Land Rover? Striking a cash-in-hand deal on your conservatory?
No, it is stealing avocados, obviously.
And three criminals in California have done exactly that. It wasn’t just one each, either, this was no small-fry heist – they yoinked a whopping $300,000 worth of avo. All three men worked for Mission Produce, a company that specialises in avocados, and carried out the thefts over a number of months. Mission sell a box of the fruits for $50, but the green-fingered teefs were selling them for $20 or $30, which is a mega bargain, particularly in today’s avocado-strapped times.
Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28 and Rahim Leblanc, 30, were the men behind the scheme. They’ve all been arrested and are now awaiting trial.
As far as it goes, they were quite professional, selling to customers in such a way that they thought their money was going to Mission Produce, and not three heavy-hitters with their mind on their avo, their avo on their mind.
In the end they were caught using pretty conventional means: they were under police surveillance when the boss of Mission, Steve Barnard, became suspicious of missing stock, so video footage and customer tip-offs landed them in the slammer. That, and they always had chunks of avocado under their nails, even at weekends.
Ventura County Sgt John Franchi gave perhaps the greatest police statement ever:
“Everybody loves avocados. We take these kinds of thefts seriously.”
Fair enough, Franchi – we’re in the middle of an avocado drought, and we can’t have dastardly criminal trios pinching a load to hawk down the village fête to Gemima and her brood for their brekkies before private school, can we? That just wouldn’t be cricket. Gosh, what a palaver!
(Main image: iStock)