Europe

Rash of Thefts Target Greek Producers

With the harvest season is at its peak, Greek olive oil producers are nagged by cases of crop and oil piracy.

Dec. 7, 2017
By Costas Vasilopoulos

Recent News

It is this time of the year that if you find your­self roam­ing the areas of rural Greece, you will most likely come across work­ers har­vest­ing olives in the olive groves, trac­tors and pickup trucks loaded with sacks of olives con­tin­u­ously mov­ing back and forth between the groves and the oil mills, and olive oil pro­duc­ers flock­ing to the mills dis­cussing yield and prices.

The har­vest­ing sea­son is at its peak, but not with­out its usual chal­lenges. Now, reports are com­ing in from var­i­ous areas of the coun­try where cases of theft of olives and freshly made olive oil have occurred.

A few days ago near Mes­so­longi, thieves took eight tons of table olives that were kept by local pro­duc­ers in a ware­house facil­ity. Accord­ing to the police, they prob­a­bly loaded the olives on trucks and drove off. No fol­low-up on the case has made the news yet, despite the vol­ume of the stolen crop.

Last month in the Chalkidiki region in north­ern Greece, police arrested six peo­ple accused of tres­pass­ing and har­vest­ing olives from groves that belonged to oth­ers. They had allegedly com­mit­ted the same offense again just days ago in the same area, and had already trans­ferred the loot of more than two tons of olives to a mill for pro­cess­ing.

An elder pro­ducer liv­ing near Her­ak­lion in Crete dis­cov­ered that his yield of half-ton of olive oil was miss­ing from his house. He lost not only the oil meant for his own house­hold use but also the income he would have made by sell­ing the sur­plus to his neigh­bors, he told the author­i­ties.

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In another cir­cum­stance, per­pe­tra­tors invaded a barn at a vil­lage near Agrinio in the Aeto­lia-Acar­na­nia region and removed con­tain­ers with 2 tons of table olives val­ued at more than €4,000 ($4,739).

In Cen­tral Greece, the regional admin­is­tra­tion, in an attempt to pre­vent sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions, issued a warn­ing to mill own­ers and olive oil mer­chants to be cau­tious when deal­ing with unfa­mil­iar peo­ple and inform the police of any­thing sus­pi­cious dur­ing their trans­ac­tions.

And in sev­eral cases thieves also took equip­ment and machin­ery like tarps, lad­ders, chain­saws, and elec­tric har­vesters that work­ers left unat­tended at the field for the next day’s har­vest.

Such inci­dents come up every year dur­ing the har­vest­ing sea­son and even more so dur­ing chal­leng­ing eco­nomic times and peri­ods of higher unem­ploy­ment.





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