Photo: stolen avocados
May 13, 2022 – Santa Barbara County, Ca.
Setting aside the age-old arguments swirling around the question of “what’s a fruit and what’s a vegetable,” the theft of edibles growing on the property of another is not to be taken lightly in a jurisdiction where agricultural industry generates significant economic revenues to both private enterprise and public taxing authorities. In Santa Barbara County, the theft of a single avocado is nothing less than sacrilege.
That social and legal verity was presumably known to 44-year-old Lompoc resident Tim Rounds in the pre-dawn hours of May 8 th as he allegedly skulked along a Goleta roadway skirting a large avocado orchard. According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Raquel Zick, Rounds “was wearing a headlamp on his forehead and holding a bucket of avocados” when SBSD Deputy Hartley Freedman just happened to drive by and notice “a
vehicle stopped on the shoulder of the road.”
Conducting a routine of the parked vehicle—undoubtedly a suspicious find given the remote location and time of day—Freedman “noticed a bag of methamphetamine on the dashboard of the vehicle.” A quick search of the area led deputies to locate Rounds and his bucket of avocados. An onsite investigation led to the further discovery of “a methamphetamine pipe and a trunk full of avocados.”
Once it was determined that Rounds did not have permission to harvest the fruit—defined on www.dictionary.com as “the edible part of a seed plant that develops from a flower into a ripened ovary that contains one or more seeds—he was taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail. Rounds was booked on charges of felony grand theft of fruit,
possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department