An 18-officer unit polices the agricultural community in the Miami area, where fruit theft costs farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, the Miami Herald reports. The officers work to protect the farmlands and nurseries in an area of more than 400 square miles.
When night falls, the agricultural patrol is on the lookout for thieves who cut the fences around the groves and nurseries, drive trucks inside and sneak out with hundreds of pounds of produce or hundreds of plants. The clearer the sky and the fuller the moon, the more likely it is that the fruit thieves will strike.
The agricultural patrol recently caught a thief who stole $2,000 worth of avocados. Agriculture is Florida’s second biggest money-maker after tourism. Among the largest of Florida’s crops: citrus, sugar cane, tomato, honey and strawberries. Unless thieves are caught in the act, authorities have little chance of connecting them to the crime or finding the stolen goods: The fruit is moved very quickly, and there’s no easy way to link it back to a particular farm.