Agricultural theft is spiking in the east valley. Now a date farmer is speaking out after thieves got away with about two thousand pounds worth of product.
"It’s become a burden for farmers who spend an entire year trying to grow this crop and harvest it and then in the middle of the night a couple of people can come with a couple of machetes and wipe you out," said Mark Tadros, president of Aziz Farms.
This week, 24-year-old Marco Basilio and 34-year-old Noe Moreno were caught in the act. Stealing dates from a farm near Avenue 66 and Martinez Road.
"This isn’t going and stealing a couple of oranges off your neighbors tree," said Tadros.
Far from it. Stealing agriculture is a felony. The wholesale value of Tadros’ dates can be upwards of a dollar and fifty cents per pound. But the retails value is around two or three dollars a pound.
"They stole two thousand pounds from us. There was another farmer that had six thousand pounds stolen a week before," Tadros said.
The two thousand pounds of yellow barhi dates that were taken from Tadros’ farm will affect his bottom line by $3,000 dollars.
"This is coming and taking fruit from a farmer that’s not only spent money, but time and sweat growing this fruit on an annual basis," Tadros said.
Once the thieves have the fruit, it doesn’t take much to sell it.
"Los Angeles is just a stone’s throw away. There is a large population out there that consume this date," said Tadros.
And thieves are getting away with more than just dates.
"It’s not just fruit that we have to worry about out here. It’s the equipment it’s the batteries it’s everything that’s located in a rural farm," said Tadros.