3 Busted in $300K 'Grand Theft Avocado'

Produce workers charged with swiping a whole lot of the precious fruit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 18, 2017 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Police are calling it grand theft avocado. Three California produce company workers have been arrested in the theft of up to $300,000 worth of avocados, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Thirty-eight-year-old Joseph Valenzuela, 28-year-old Carlos Chavez, and 30-year-old Rahim Leblanc were each charged with grand theft of fruit and were being held in jail on bail of $250,000 each. They were arrested Wednesday, reports the AP. It was unclear whether they have attorneys.

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Detectives began investigating the suspects in May after receiving a tip that they were conducting unauthorized cash sales of avocados from a ripening facility in the city of Oxnard owned by the Mission Produce company. The three are accused of selling boxes of avocados, normally worth about $50 each, for about half that in cash to unsuspecting customers over the course of several months, notes the Los Angeles Times. The company estimated the loss at about $300,000, the sheriff's office said, but is covered by insurance. "We take these kinds of thefts seriously. It's a big product here and in California," sheriff's Sgt. John Franchi told the Times. "Everybody loves avocados." (More bad news for avocado lovers everywhere.)

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