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Blueberry thieves hit farmers' pocketbooks

Richmond Mounties are urging the public to stop picking away at the livelihood of local farmers, one blueberry at a time.

For years, Richmond RCMP has fielded complaints from local blueberry farmers whose crops are being pilfered by people who wander onto their private property when nobody is looking, and pick what isn't rightfully theirs.

"These thefts are upsetting for farmers as they have put so much time and effort into growing their crop, only to find that their yield has been diminished by people that help themselves to their bounty," Richmond RCMP Cpl. Sherrdean Turley said.

Fruit theft is difficult to quantify as partial crop losses are hard to estimate, she said.

But farmers have their suspicions, and believe it is those who come under cover of darkness or when nobody's looking, that are to blame.

But Turley said stealing fruit is no different from other types of theft.

It all boils down to respecting other people's property.

If that's not enough to convince you to stop picking other's crops, Turley said some crops are sprayed with chemicals or pesticides, after which they must sit for a few days before they can be harvested and consumed.

"As a result, there may be potential health concerns to those that unknowingly consume berries directly from farmers fields that have been recently sprayed," she said.

Locals can also do their part to help deter thieves by reporting suspicious activity to Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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