A family-run strawberry farm in Levin has seen thieves break in and strip 7000 plants of their berries on Monday night. estimates upwards of $6000 worth of strawberries were stolen in the raid, which left many plants damaged or pulled out of the ground.
Owner Alan Swanson said it was the first time in 38 years they had been targeted by thieves: “They've totally just ruined [the block]. They even took all the stuff that wasn't ripe. The pickers go through each day and take the red berries and leave the pink and orange, but they took all those as well".
Swanson said it was obvious from the way the berries were picked that whoever stole them was trying to take as much as they could as quickly as possible. He believed they must have been wearing head torches as it was such a dark night, and that there would have been more than one person involved. A gate alarm from the farm's other strawberry block woke him around 2am Tuesday morning, but he didn't see anything amiss.
A police report had been filed but as there was very little evidence left behind, Swanson believed there would not be much they could do. The thieves targeted a particular variety of strawberry grown locally only by Swanson's, known as the Pajero.