Following Italy’s poor olive harvest and the resulting significant rise in the price of olive oil, there have been reports in national newspapers La Stampa and La Repubblica of olive thefts taking place in olive-growing regions across the country.
Olives have become an even more valuable commodity, with thieves targeting olive producers and bushels of olives and drums of olive oil disappearing from rural groves and warehouses in regions across Italy. Police have made dozens of arrests for theft, prompting olive oil producers to organize patrols of their properties and hire surveillance companies to guard their crop and escort trucks transporting olive oil.
Most reports of thefts have been in Puglia, the southern region which produces the majority of Italy’s olive oil, but there have also been cases of theft in Trapani, Sicily, and Macerata in the Marche region of central Italy.
Coldiretti (Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti), Italy’s biggest farmers’ organization, has declared the phenomenon of olive theft to be a serious problem, with a truck barrel of olive oil having a value of 200,000 Euros. It has asked municipal authorities in olive-growing regions to increase police presence and patrols, provide protection to trucks transporting olive oil, and consider the installation of video cameras in olive groves to deter thieves.