Delano farm plagued by repeated grape thefts

Thieves ruin the crop

DELANO, Calif. - A Delano farm is suffering the loss of thousands of dollars in grapes after they were targeted by thieves.

Jessie Rodriguez with La Jolla Farming said the thieves have broken into the farm fives time in the past two months. 

Each time the thieves have stolen about $3,000 worth of grapes and farming supplies, in total about $25,000, Rodriguez said.

The latest hit came last Monday when employees came to work and noticed nearly $1,500 worth of picking trays missing. 

Yet, besides the loss of business, what is really setting the farm back is the way the thieves are picking the fruit.

Owner Juvenel Montemayor said the thieves are breaking branches and damaging vines, which can become a problem for next years' harvest.

"They pull the gapes and damage the vines, because they are taking off branches that we will need next year," said Montemayor.

Steve Maniaci, president of the Kern County Farm Bureau, said theft at local farms has been a huge problem for years, but is worse this year than in the past. 

The Delano farm has reported all the thefts to the Kern County Sheriffs Department and have tried to combat the problem themselves by hiring security guards.

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