Israeli farmers report an alarming rise in theft of crops both by individuals and criminal organizations in recent years, causing damages estimated at tens of thousands of shekels each year.
"People come here, have picnics, walk the fields with their dogs, and before they go home, they take a bag of avocados or oranges,” says Dvir Bar, a farmer from Kibbutz Glil Yam in central Israel.
"This happens all year long, especially when there is fruit on the trees. The damage is often estimated in the thousands of shekels. The perpetrators are both criminal organizations and private individuals who load up large quantities of fruit in bags as if it were public property.”
According to Bar, those who take his product have grown increasingly brazen.
“We found out that thieves come at any time of day. If in the past they used to come only at night, today, they also come during the day, or even at noon, around the clock, really,” says Bar.
Bar reported that approximately 680 kg (1430 pounds) of avocados have been stolen from one of his plantations last Friday. The people of the Kibbutz caught two suspects driving a private vehicle filled to the brim with the contraband.
Bar says there is not much he can do against private individuals who take from the product of his labor and that they only turn to police when faced with organized criminal groups.
"This is a very difficult problem. There is no enforcement, no penalties and people really think they can simply take from us. I estimate the damage amounts to several tens of thousands of shekels a year,” Bar added.