The unemployment rate in the valley is well into the double-digits and food banks can’t keep up with demand. The shortage of jobs and food from public assistance programs has made the thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables in the region a prime target for thieves. While some culprits steal from fields and orchards to feed their families others sell the ill-gotten produce for cash according to Danielle Rau of the California Farm Bureau.
We’re seeing roadside vendors that are providing a variety of fruits and vegetables that in many cases could be stolen.
Stopping the thefts is difficult, especially on farms that stretch over hundreds of acres. The problem is compounded because cash-strapped law enforcement agencies are being forced to cut back rural patrols.