Texas Citrus Mutual Works to End Crop Thefts
Valley farmers continue to grapple with thefts of their crops. Texas Citrus Mutual says they will work to prevent them from happening.
The organization says if more isn't done to stop the thefts, they will only get worse.
"We've had nursery trees taken out of the ground and sold at flea markets and what not, it's a tough thing to combat because fruit is not marked, hard to tell exactly where it came from unless you caught them," says Dale Murden, President of Texas Citrus Mutual.
Murden says the crop thefts happen across the valley.
"The valley is spread out, the industry is spread out it's hard to keep track of theft especially in the middle of the day or the middle of the night."
Because of the high amount of thefts, Texas Citrus Mutual is in constant contact with the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department.
"They even assigned an individual to help us anytime we had issues all we had to do was call or text."
Murden says with the reports of thefts showing no signs of letting up, Texas Citrus Mutual is looking to do more. The organization is offering $1,000 dollars for any information that leads to an arrest and conviction of someone who steals from a grove.
"Number 1 you don't need to be in there and number 2 you don't need to be stealing their fruit this is their lively hood and their income."
The penalty for stealing produce out of a farmer's field is first degree misdemeanor. The fine is about $250. Texas Citrus Mutual is also offering signs for growers to use. The signs reads "Private Property."
If you need a signs, call Texas Citrus Mutual at (956) 584-1772. The signs cost $3.