Health-conscious individuals around the world are making avocados a staple in their diet. It shouldn’t come to a surprise, according to WebMD one avocado can provide more than 20 vitamins and minerals and are packed with fiber, making it a perfect food for someone looking to shed some pounds while ensuring proper nutrition. But with avocados being in such high demand and small crops in both Mexico and California we have since seen the prices of the fruits reach record highs, making them more costly for us consumers and leaving criminals seeing dollar signs.

Police say these rising prices were the motive behind one of the largest fruit heists they had ever seen. According to an article published in the LA Times, 28-year-old Carlos Chavez, 30-year-old Rahim Leblanc, and 38-year-old Joseph Valenzuela were arrested on grounds of “grand theft avocado” after they were accused of stealing an estimated $300,000 worth from a Mission Produce plant they had been employed at.

AvocadoFacility

It is believed that the men may have been stealing the fruit for months after the company changed their methods of distribution. Previously, customers were required pick up the boxes at Mission’s ripening facility, but several months ago they began delivering the fruit to their customers directly. Some customers were not aware that this change had occurred, allowing the three men to sell the fruit from the facility in cash transactions.

Company president Steve Barnard told the LA Times that he believed the trio were selling the fruit below market value. Typically a box of avocados could fetch approximately $50. The men were selling their boxes from the back door of the facility for as little as $20 or $30. It wasn’t until Barnard and other management were tipped off by their customers that they realized the sketchy deals were happening right under their noses.

AvocadoThieves

After receiving the tips, management reviewed surveillance footage from the distribution center and caught the suspects red-handed. With this footage, they were able to go to the police who have been investigating the Mission employees since May of 2017.

Chavez, Rahim, and Leblanc were arrested on June 14, 2017. They are all currently being held on a $250,000 bond as the investigation continues.