Business/In Brief • June 18, 2014

Farmers report theft increase

KAILUA-KONA – The Big Island’s prosecutor is encouraging farmers to report thefts of crops as West Hawaii farmers say they’re experiencing an increase in stolen produce.

Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said he’s working with the state Department of Agriculture to create a pilot program to bring more agriculture investigators to the island. He said that because the island is an agricultural one his office takes farm thefts seriously.

Roth said there have been recent thefts involving mangoes, and he’s heard reports in the past year of other fruits including rambutan, longan and lychee. There have been some convictions, but none that resulted in jail sentences, he said.

Area farmers said that they have noticed an uptick in thefts.

Kona fruit farmer Nancy Taylor said surveillance footage showed men walking off with hundreds of pounds of fruit late on June 7 or June 8. They made off with about $800 worth of fruit, she said.