"In tough economic conditions, mysterious incidents often occur," says a reporter at a national newspaper. "In a recession, you might hear about an increase in stolen rice. Recently, however, there have been a large number of thefts of high-priced fruit. There is no precedent for this."
On May 26, a farmer in Chikusei, Ibaraki noticed the disappearance of 700 small watermelons (worth 350,000 yen) from inside a greenhouse not far from his house. "He never thought someone could haul away such a bulky and heavy items," says the aforementioned reporter.
Five days later, another farm in the same city suffered a loss of 250 melons. "In recent years, the prefectural government has been promoting Chikusei watermelons as being sweet and delicious," says the same reporter. "The thefts have really hit home, and local farmers are perplexed as to how to establish counter measures."
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun (July 7), a farmer discovered the theft of 150 watermelons, valued at 150,000 yen, from a field in the city of Yuki on the morning of July 6.
But the thefts are not just occurring in Ibaraki. Tottori Prefecture is the producer of the high-end Daiei Suika brand, a specialty watermelon known for being shipped to the royal family of Dubai. In the city of Hokuei, three incidents have taken place.