Crime

Man caught green-handed with 730 avocados stolen from a SLO County ranch, sheriff says

How to cut an avocado and keep your fingers

Sheela Remington of Morro Creek Ranch demonstrates how to safely cut an avocado without hurting yourself.
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Sheela Remington of Morro Creek Ranch demonstrates how to safely cut an avocado without hurting yourself.

A Santa Maria man was arrested Sunday afternoon when deputies caught him with a carload of avocados apparently pilfered from a Nipomo ranch, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities said they believe the man, identified as Christian Lara Medrano, 37, was stealing Hass avocados and then selling them to legitimate businesses and restaurants in the area. Officials said Medrano sold the avocados out of celery boxes.

Deputies apprehended Medrano after receiving a call from the manager of Suey Ranch, located in the 2400 block of Bull Canyon Road in Nipomo.

The manager noticed over the last few weeks that his fence had been repeatedly cut near the property’s entrance gate, the Sheriff’s Office said. He suspected that someone was stealing avocados from the ranch and set up game cameras.

On Sunday, the manager called authorities to report someone trespassing and possibly stealing avocados, the Sheriff’s Office said.

When deputies arrive, they found Medrano, the suspected thief, driving near the entrance gate. He turned and fled onto the ranch when he saw the patrol units, officials said. Medrano’s vehicle was discovered unoccupied, and authorities said they found him hiding in thick brush.

In the vehicle, deputies found wire cutters and about 730 Hass avocados worth about $620 — constituting a felony offense, according to the release.

Medrano was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of grand theft and trespassing, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was no longer in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities urged business owners to buy produce only from reputable vendors or farmers markets, and to be suspicious of produce that doesn’t match the box it’s sold in.

The investigation into the theft is ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office said.

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