The Nation: Hot Avocados

Although what the thieves are after has neither hoofs nor horns, to the victimized growers the crime is as dastardly as robbing a rancher of his cattle. Nestled among leathery leaves in unfenced orchards, avocados are an easy target for what Southern Californians call rustlers. And at current prices (about 50¢ apiece in most supermarkets, up to nearly $1 in some areas) the green fruit is an apparently irresistible one. Midway through this season's harvest, rustlers have already ripped off more than a million dollars' worth of Southern California's $38 million crop, and police estimate that one out of every...

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