Port Backup Creating Opportunities for Thieves

Taylor Hillman General, Specialty Crops, Tree, nut & vine crops

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The ripple effect of the port shutdown and shipment backup is being seen across the state and is creating opportunities for thieves.

Crop Should Have Been Picked

Central Valley grower Tom Thomas produces a variety of citrus at one of his Fresno County locations. Thomas grows tangelos, which are popular on the Asian market. Thomas says the port shutdown has kept the majority of the fruit on the trees, and he heard one of his loads from December is still sitting at the docks. That predicament is what made the recent discovery in his orchard even harder to swallow. Thieves came in during the middle of the night and stole the fruit on the trees. The thieves targeted an area in the orchard that wasn’t visible by any structures or public roads. Thomas says he believes this is the third time the thieves have come to the orchard; only this time they came prepared.

Freezing temperatures hit citrus growers hard last year and the cold was devastating to Thomas’s winter crop. This winter has been a different story and Thomas says it was promising to see his crop make it through with no freeze damage; however that is only good news if the fruit can be picked, packed and shipped. Thomas and his wife say a promising winter has taken a turn for the worse, and the theft of fruit from a crop that should already be on the Asian market is extremely discouraging.