Grand Theft Avocado – $300,000 dollars of avocado were stolen when three men decided to start selling them at half price out the back door. The company trusted the trio which consisted of Carlos Chavez, 28, of Oxnard; Rahim Leblanc, 30, also of Oxnard; and Joseph Valenzuela, 38, of Santa Paula, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of grand theft of avocados, the Sheriff’s Office said. It is unclear how many pounds were stolen.
“We take these kinds of thefts seriously,” Franchi said. “It’s a big product here and in California.”
Authorities think the men were stealing and selling avocados to unsuspecting customers for at least several months, Franchi said. In late May, sheriff’s detectives launched an investigation into allegations the men were receiving cash for the stolen avocados, he said.
“They were looking to make money,” Franchi said.
“We had all these Avocados, But we didn’t have no chips. How can you eat them with no chips?” so the gang decided to start selling them for cold hard cash out the back door when no one was looking.
The men had been working at Mission Produce in the 3800 block Dufau Road for several years when, at some point, the facility changed its distribution flow.
In the past, customers would pick up avocado orders at the ripening facility. But the distribution facility recently stopped that practice and began delivering pallets of the fruit to its customers instead.
But some customers didn’t get the memo and continued returning to the facility to pick up their shipment, Franchi said.
That’s when Chavez, Leblanc and Valenzuela concocted a plan to sell the company’s avocados and pocket the cash themselves.
The company’s president, Steve Barnard, said partial pallets and boxes of avocados were purloined and sold from the back door of the distribution center.