Blog Freeloading Flying Foxes

Steve Farmer — 30 October 2014

“Those bloody caravanners have been pinching our avocados again”. 

My friend, Julie, was clearly annoyed and I can’t say I blame her – it’s just a shame that she branded all RVers as thieves because of the actions of a few “bad apples”.

Julie and her husband have a home in one of the many spots in tropical North Queensland which are popular with southern RVers each winter.  And in the front yard of their house is an avocado tree growing close to the boundary line.  Each year their crop of this delicious fruit is plundered by passing walkers who can’t resist reaching out and snapping off a few free samples. 

Unfortunately, my friend reckons the majority of these “two legged flying foxes” are from nearby caravan parks.

“I wouldn’t mind if they were just taking one or two, but some come with plastic bags to carry them home and one bloke parked his 4WD on the street just before daybreak and was filling a large plastic bucket from our tree” she continued.  Or at least he was until Julie stormed out of the house, clad only in her nightie, and delivered a couple of verbal broadsides which sent the petty thief roaring off down the road with his tail between his legs.

Julie’s story reminded me of the day I rounded a corner in my home town to witness a “crime” being committed.  A couple were plucking lemons from a tree loaded with fruit which was hanging within easy reach of the footpath.  They looked extremely embarrassed when I caught them red-handed, but what they probably didn’t know was that the house was a Police house where the local Senior Sergeant lived and they may have been in a lot more strife if he had caught them in the act.

By the way, there seems to be a misconception that any fruit hanging in a public space is fair game, but a few Google searches indicated that this wasn’t the case.  Fruit remains the property of the person in whose yard the tree is growing.

In isolation, pinching a little fresh fruit hardly seems to qualify as much of a crime, but if their favourite fruit tree (which they planned to share with family and friends) is getting hammered every day by passing pedestrians, then I can understand that householders would be pretty annoyed when strangers help themselves without even asking. 

I suspect commercial growers with roadside orchards have the same problem and are also angry when their livelihood is plundered by travellers and locals keen to sample the local produce for free.

Heck, no one owes us a free feed.  I think we should be spending a few dollars in the regions we visit and supporting the people who grow the produce, not ripping them off.  In fact, there are often bargains to be had all along the highways we travel, with roadside fruit stalls and weekend markets selling a range of local produce at very cheap prices.

Of course, freeloading flying foxes aren’t unique to North Queensland.  I’m sure commercial growers and householders all over the country can tell similar stories.  And not all of these petty thieves are RVers, but unfortunately a small percentage are and they can give the majority a bad name.

I really don’t understand how tightwad travellers can think it is okay to steal someone else’s produce.  What do you think?  Have you seen cases of blatant theft from private or commercial trees?  Are you guilty of the “offence”?  And is it a case of a minority giving the majority a bad name?


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