EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 18, 2012

Police charge five women with apple theft

LONDONDERRY — Police arrested five Massachusetts residents Tuesday morning and charged them with stealing apples from one of Mack’s Apples U-pick orchards.

Farm manager Mike Cross said they didn’t exactly steal prime fruit.

“They weren’t very good-looking (apples),” Cross said yesterday. “They were Cortland drops off the ground.”

Mack’s employees had stripped the trees in that Ash Street orchard, located near the defunct Woodmont orchard, last week, Cross said.

In fact, the orchards have been picked clean, with workers finishing up the picking yesterday, he said.

Someone driving by the orchard Tuesday morning, who knew it was closed, saw the women’s van parked by the gate, Lt. Kevin Cavallaro said yesterday.

At about 11 a.m., a police officer located the women in the orchard, filling bags with apples.

Cross said the loss of apples to thieves seems to have been a little worse this year, but so was the apple crop. Thanks to poor weather conditions in the spring, this year’s crop was about half what it should be, Cross said.

He said most apple thefts occur during busy picking weekends, when people can more easily hit one of the U-pick orchards and get away undetected.

While the apple season has ended, Mack’s does still have picking open to the general public. The pumpkins did well this year and the farm is overflowing with ripe pumpkins, Cross said.

Charged in the apple theft were: Joanne Liu, 42, of Brighton; Li Zhu, 54, of Malden; Xiao Fang Guan, 54, of Quincy; Yan Fen Yang, 57, of Boston; and Zuo Zhu Xue, 41, of Quincy. The charges are misdemeanors.

All five were charged with theft and released on $1,500 personal recognizance apiece.

The women are scheduled to be arraigned in 10th Circuit Court in Derry on Nov. 5.

Last week, police arrested a family of four from Quincy for filling the trunk of their car with apples taken from Mack’s.

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