Carob snatchers drive Algarve producers to despair

Algarve’s carob producers are being driven to despair by the growing number of thefts in the region which are costing them thousands of euros. It’s a chronic problem which has only been getting worse, particularly in the Eastern Algarve near the border with Spain, they say.

Horácio Piedade, president of the Algarve’s association of carob and almond producers (AGRUPA), told TVI24 this week that all 400 members have been victims of theft this year.

Producers believe the higher selling price of carobs (€12 as opposed to €5 per kilo) is leading more people to steal them to then sell them illegally.

But carobs aren’t the only products being stolen. Avocado producers are also reaching their wit’s end due to the increasing number of thefts.

João Inácio from the JBI Group suspects “well-organised groups” have formed that prepare the “logistics very well and are able to steal hundreds of kilos in just two hours”, he told TVI24.

Some producers are tackling the issue by having employees patrol their fields at night, while others say an official ‘producer card’ would solve the problem. In other words, businesses would be able to check if the person selling them the products is a legitimate producer or had obtained them illegally.

GNR police in Faro have confirmed that the number of complaints received this year has increased.

Spokesperson Humberto Galego urges producers and civilians who own carob trees to report any thefts they detect, as it is “the only way” authorities can act.

So far this year, 25 people have been arrested or identified for these kinds of thefts, the police force revealed.

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