Thieves Make Off With Thousands Of Dollars In Grapes

German police announced Monday that they are on the lookout for thieves who stole an entire vineyard of grapes last week.

According to the police report, “The unknown offenders … used a professional harvesting machine over the entire surface” to collect the grapes on Wednesday afternoon. They had taken 3,527 pounds used to make Riesling wine valued at around $9,200, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. 

GettyImages-1040609666 Workers of the Patrick Kallfels winery harvest wine grapes from their vineyard in the Mosel region on September 24 near Kroev, Germany. Police are looking for thieves who stole an entire vineyard of grapes. Thomas Lohnes/Getty

Authorities in the vineyard-rich Rhineland-Palatinate region in western Germany are asking the public for help in catching those responsible for the crime, which reportedly took place right next to the parking lot of a major supermarket.

Grape theft has occurred in Germany before, and cases are almost never solved. Following the theft of 350 kilograms of grapes, enough to make 350 bottles of wine in 2016, police told Die Welt that “no one is surprised when a harvester drives through the vineyards in the fall.” People are usually unaware that a crime is being committed and vineyard owners don’t check on the fruit daily, meaning that police cannot always determine when the theft occurred.

Authorities in another European country, however, have found a way to catch those responsible for stealing grapes. “Horses are the best way of getting around places where you can’t go by car,” Nicolas Krust, a member of the “green brigade” in the Haut-Rhin region of eastern France said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Krust is one of 16 officers on horseback that patrol the region, looking for people who litter, ticket illegally parked cars and watch for potential grape thieves. Locals believe that crime has fallen because of the unit.

“For several years we haven’t had many problems with theft which is linked to the presence of the green brigade,” Roland Martin, the mayor of Wuenheim, said

In the United States, two-and-a-half tons of grapes were reportedly stolen overnight in a Virginia vineyard last month, leaving the owner of Firefly Hill Vineyards with a loss of $50,000.

“I can handle losing a crop to Mother Nature, but to come in and take my crop in the middle of the night and steal what we’ve worked for eight months, that’s disheartening,” David Dunkenberger said, according to The Washington Post.  

“You work your whole year for the harvest day and we were about to have that. We were almost there, and somebody stole it,” he said, mentioning that he has no idea who could have committed the crime or what they were planning to use the grapes for.

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