Avocado Demand Fuels New Zealand Crime Wave

In New Zealand, large-scale avocado thefts have taken place in the middle of the night due to the high demand. Mark Ralston/Getty

Surging local and international demand for avocados is fuelling a crime wave in New Zealand.

Since January there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand, with as many as 350 fruit stolen at a time, The Guardian reports. It is suspected that many more thefts have gone unreported.

The thefts have typically occurred in the middle of the night. The avocados are either “raked” from the tree and collected in blankets or sheets on the ground, or hand-picked, then driven away, often appearing at pop-up roadside grocery stores or small-scale sushi, fruit and sandwich shops in Auckland.

New Zealand police have warned that the stolen avocados can also carry risks, given that “they are commonly unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin.”

Avocados are currently selling for between NZ$4-6 each across the country as a result of the high demand.