Blueberry thieves sweep through Vidzeme

In the last few days, large amounts of blueberries have been stolen from berry collection points in Vidzeme, causing losses to berry resellers, reported Vidzeme Television on Tuesday.

Thefts were carried out at night, by breaking into barns, outhouses and basements. In one case, a fence was broken. The State Police (VP) has started criminal procedures in all cases.

The last of the series of thefts took place in Strenči, where berries were stored in a yard-shed. Thieves broke in through the fence and stole 36 boxes or about 260 kilograms of berries. One of the people at the collection point estimated that the berries were worth about €450.

Even though that particular mushroom and berry collection point has been operational for several years, thefts were uncommon until now. Now the products will be stored under a lock, but, judging from other cases, that does not constitute an obstacle for thieves. For example, berries were stolen from locked outhouses in the Ape region, in Cēsis and in Seda.

"The lock was a centimeter of metal, but they simply picked it. It has happened twice already. They stole about 80 kilograms [of berries], which are worth more than 100 euros," said a berry collector in Seda.

He said that thieves are most likely locals who have already observed where the berries are stored and how. After they're stolen, the berries are handed in at other collection points where they pay more for a kilogram. As of now a kilogram of blueberries costs about €1.25 to €1.5. 

The police have a similar opinion. "We think that thieves either parcel such amounts and sell them off at different collection points or in a single one," said Aldis Pāže, the head of the Cēsis State Police department. 

The State Police asks for berry and mushroom collectors to be careful and look after their property, if possible by installing alarm systems. For example, thieves had tried breaking into another blueberry collection point in Seda, but the alarm went off and thus thwarted the thieves' designs.

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