Avocados, watermelons, grapes, and other popular produce are in danger as an epidemic of agricultural crime is sweeping through the ripening farms of Israel. A group of thieves was recently caught by the Israeli Border Police stealing tons of avocados, which they planned to sell for less than the market value aiming to make hundreds of thousands of shekels.
The avocado thieves were caught, and now police are seeing a rise in the theft of watermelon, Israel’s most popular summertime staple. Groups are arriving with large trucks in the middle of the night, carefully calculating their way towards farmers property, loading tons of produce, and making their getaway. While in the past, groups of Palestinians have been caught stealing with the aim of selling to the black market, an older couple from Tiberias was also recently found loading watermelons in the dark, though said it was for their family and not for sale. The next suspected piece of produce in jeopardy is grapes, given their highly lucrative value.
The result is dire for all but the uncaught thief. For consumers, market prices increase meaning demand decreases – and the farming industry is in danger. The agricultural theft threatens the foundation of Israeli produce market, where prices are consistently soaring and farmers are already threatened with limited water resources, hot Mediterranean climate, and now having to protect and secure their fields.