Trio charged with $300,000 avocado theft

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image captionAvocado appreciation is booming internationally

Few foodstuffs arouse passions like the humble avocado.

Depending who you ask, the gnarly green fruit is the vitamin-laden hero of brunch - or the reason millennials can't buy houses.

Back in May, a surge in global demand sent avocado prices to a record high.

And police say this may have driven three California men to steal up to $300,000 (£234,770) worth of them from an Oxnard produce firm where they worked.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office said Carlos Chavez, Rahim Leblanc, and Joseph Valenzuela were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of grand theft of fruit.

The trio had been employed at Mission Produce, one of the world's biggest avocado distributors, for several years.

Police believe they had been stealing and selling the fruit to unwitting customers for months.

The company's president, Steve Barnard, said a box of avocados typically sells for $50, but the men were allegedly selling them for half that.

"They are in demand. Everybody loves avocados," Sgt John Franchi of the sheriff's office told the LA Times.

"We take these kinds of thefts seriously," he added. "It's a big product here and in California."

media captionFour people a week get treated for "avocado hand" in Chelsea

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