As I bought my tiny little four-pack of ripe tomatoes at a local grocery store, I was appalled at the high per pound cost of the coveted vegetable, or should I say, “fruit.” Today I open the pack gingerly for a salad and learn that on the underside one of them is rotting. Ruefully I read the New York Times headlines that “Price of Tomatoes Has a Lot to Do With These Thefts.”
The story goes that the West Coast Tomato Company in Palmetto, Florida had 40,000 pounds of tomatoes stolen, valued at around $42,000. In fact, last month thieves stole 6 tractor-trailer loads of tomatoes and a truck-load of cucumbers from Florida growers! I can totally understand, I’ve given up buying cucumbers for now…
At the local Krogers store last week a cart full of flour tortillas was located where bread is usually marked down but there were no mark-downs noted on the packages as they normally do. Upon inquiring, I was promptly told that they were not on sale but were destined to be trashed! I said I would take some of them or pay them 50cent per packet (I was going to freeze them!) but the store clerk was adamant that by law they were not allowed to sell them any more. That policy to me is insane!
At the Publix store they never mark down any of the cheeses, which sell for atrocious prices and I wonder who exactly can afford to buy all that high-end food these days. Perhaps they give it all to their clerks but refuse to mark it down for the public but I’ve asked them as well if they ever mark down the cheeses and they’ve said no!
But back to the enterprising grocery thieving networks, reportedly, the thieves who are still at large, actually sent their own imposter trucks to pick up the loads of treasured tomatoes, and pretended to deliver them to various customers.
New York Times was told by Shaun Leiker, an assistant manager at Allen Lund, a trucking broker from Florida who has seen countless cargo thefts, "I've never experienced people targeting produce loads before," continuing to say that "it's a little different than selling TVs off the back of your truck."
Apparently the grocery thieves actually created their own shipping company named “E&A Transport Express,” registering it with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and then directly booked the grocery pickups through a brokerage so that everything would appear legitimate. I am totally floored at their tenacity!