Scrumpers steal £300,000 peaches
Filed under: News
The fruit cost up to £300,000 to cultivate, and there's every sign that the scrumpers had no idea of the value of the fruit. But just how risky is the business of scrumping?
We are yet to discover the fate of the Chinese scrumpers. At the moment, only one has been caught - who was found at the scene stuffing peaches into his bag. However, Li Yonggang told a local newspaper he didn't know the identity of the two other men, saying: "It was the first time I had stolen peaches. The other two guys were a fortune teller and an incense seller. I know it was a research institute, but I had no idea these peaches were so valuable".
How risky is it?Scrumping - or taking fruit from trees that you don't own, is illegal. Two hundred years ago it was widely enforced, and thousands of petty criminals were imprisoned for scrimping, and some were even deported to Australia. However, the police don't keep any figures on arrests for scrumping, as it is not considered the social menace it once was. Youths are more likely to be found shoplifting chocolate than climbing a wall for a free apple.
In fact, it is becoming increasingly socially acceptable among middle class Brits, according to some reports. The fruit, growing everywhere from parkland to school grounds, is being targeted by enterprising individuals. It is part of a worldwide movement, which also includes the guerrilla gardeners, who cultivate crops on unused space in urban landscapes.
There are also voluntary organisations such as Abundance, which can arrange to pick fruit for councils or individuals who cannot harvest themselves, and arrange to distribute the food. There is even a Lottery-Funded project in Brighton and Hove which uses windfall apples to press juice to help educate children about the process.
Of course, before you help yourself to windfalls and neglected crops, it's always worth checking whether they are part of a government-funded scientific project worth tens of thousands of pounds.
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