Several orange producers in the Algarve have complained about a string of thefts that is costing them “thousands of euros” of losses and keeping them up at night with worry.
“We can’t rest,” an orange producer from Tavira told national TV channel RTP.
“As soon as the sun goes down, we have to check the orchard several times to make sure there aren’t any intruders,” he added.
Producers believe their oranges are being stolen to then be sold illegally.
Another issue is that the orange snatchers are stealing the fruit when it is still “under the effect of pesticides” and selling it when it is “not suitable to be eaten”.
“When we pick the fruit, we always wait until it is safe to eat before selling it. When it is stolen, the thieves don’t know that the fruit is unsuitable to be eaten. Even if they did, they wouldn’t care as selling fruit that is safe to eat isn’t what drives them,” said Manuel Reis, another producer.
GNR police have received four official complaints so far from Tavira, Castro Marim, Silves and Vila Real de Santo António.
The police force is patrolling the affected orange orchards more frequently now and two men have already been arrested under suspicions of being linked to the thefts.