Avocado shortage sparks crime wave in New Zealand

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There's an avocado crime wave

Your avocado on toast and guacamole could be responsible for a surge in crime. The increase in use of avocados had led to a shortage of the fruit; local and international demand for avocados are being blamed for an emerging avocado black market in New Zealand.

New Zealand Avocado, the New Zealand avocado growers' association, said that in 2015 an additional 96,000 homes in the country began buying avocados. Local growers have not been able to keep up with the demand. Avocados now sell for NZ $4-6 (US $2.80-4.20) each in the nation.

The increase in demand-- and the resulting increase in price-- has led to an avocado-induced crime wave of some sort. According to U.K. news outlet Metro, this year alone there has been 40 large thefts from avocado orchards. People have taken up to 350 fruits at a time, and authorities suspect that there have been more thefts that have gone unreported, and that the burglars remain unknown.

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The Guardian reports that most of these crimes have occurred in the middle of the night. Avocados are either handpicked from their orchards or "raked"-- taken from their trees and put on a blanket on the ground in droves. After they're plucked, the burglars typically take them to pop-up road-side grocery stalls or local restaurants that serve avocado-heavy dishes like sushi.

New Zealand Avocado CEO, Jen Scoular, says an influx of locally-grown avocados may alleviate the issue somewhat. "It's an easy way to make a quick buck, but I don't think we are dealing with a sophisticated or highly organized operation here, more opportunistic," she said.

Scoular also mentioned that local growers are becoming more savvy of the avocado thieves. With growers installing lights and alarms-- and growing more avocados-- perhaps the thieves will resort to buying them in the grocery store like the rest of us.

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