Avocado farmers in California are securing their crops against the yearly onset of thieves who steal thousands of dollars worth of fruit every year.

With a price of US$1.20 per pound, (or two avocados), the demand is at its highest due to the Super Bowl (1 February), the most popular day of the year for guacamole. Police or “guac cops” in San Diego and Ventura counties, where 68% of the country’s avocados are grown, patrol the area tracking thieves who sell them to dubious roadside stands, restaurants or to wholesalers in Los Angeles.

In Ventura County, 29 suspected thieves were arrested last year, charged with stealing an estimated US$115,000 worth of avocados.