• Kyodo

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A farmer in Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture, reported to police Thursday that about 100 kg of cherries had been picked and stolen from eight of his trees — the third straight day of cherry thefts in the area.

According to police, Mitsuo Tamura, 65, told officers that the cherries, worth about 200,000 yen at shipping time, were just about ready for the picking.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, cherries were stolen in the nearby city of Tendo and the town of Oe. The amount of fruit stolen over the three days now totaled 1 ton, with the value estimated at around 3 million yen, police said.

Because the targeted orchards lie within a 10-km radius, investigators said it is possible the same thief or thieves are responsible.

According to police, the cherries that were stolen were all of the prized “Sato nishiki” variety, and only ripe ones were taken. The theft at Tamura’s farm apparently took place sometime between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 5:30 a.m. Thursday, when the farmer was not there.

The latest theft came less than a day after police on Wednesday evening called on the local farm co-op to set up its own voluntary patrols of the areas affected.

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