Alleged avocado thieves made off with some serious green — $300,000

The lowly avocado’s spiking popularity has been blamed for everything from poisoning birds to falling homeownership, and its popularity has also led to shortages, thefts and even a burgeoning “black market” (pun intended?) for the buttery fruits.

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Police in Ventura County, Calif., say they investigated and arrested three men in Oxnard, Calif., who pinched avocados from their company’s ripening facility and sold cases of them for half price $25 instead of $50.

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Joseph Valenzuela, 38, Carlos Chavez, 28, and Rahim Leblanc, 30, all worked together at the Mission Produce company in Oxnard.

Ventura County Sheriffs say as much as $300,000 in ill-gotten avocados may have been spread through the group’s network. They began investigating the three in May, after the police department received a tip.

Each of the men has been charged with grand theft of fruit and held on $250,000 bond. That’s according to the Associated Press. Sergeant John Franchi of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office told the Los Angeles Times they take these crimes seriously; produce, especially avocados, is big business. “Everybody loves avocados,” he remarked, rightly.

Like avocados themselves, this scheme didn’t last too long. Veuer reports that one of the group’s own buyers tipped off Mission Produce that the avocados were for sale at half-price, launching the investigation.

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