Mounted on bikes and bikes, these gendarmerie officers are charged with defending Burgundy’s celebrated wine grapes from a rising variety of thieves.

“The damage is enormous,” mentioned Vincent Gros, who heads the Gros Frère et Soeur wine property within the Cote d’Or area.

Gros has been pressured to put in safety cameras in additional distant fields attributable to ongoing thefts. However he feels reassures by the presence of police patrolling the area.

The large query is clearly who’re the thieves?

The principle suspects are surprisingly different farmers whose crops have been broken by the dangerous climate. This yr’s mixture of frost, hail and blistering sunshine has had devastating results on many vineyards.

“When the harvest is small, it is tempting to go and steal grapes. All you need are cutting shears and a bucket,” mentioned Gros. “With 40 thieves cutting, it can go very quickly!”

Typically the loss is unintentional. It sounds unlikely, however apparently contractors have been recognized to reap the incorrect tract of land.

The police primarily patrol at night time, utilizing night time imaginative and prescient goggles to maintain their presence covert till they should pounce.

“When we spot people who have no business in the vineyards at night, we turn a spotlight on them…. and we question them,” mentioned a patrolling officer who recognized himself solely as Philippe.  

“The thefts mostly happen at night… and in the early morning hours. Sometimes the thieves are many, and using harvesting machines.”

These police patrols started in Burgundy after a poor harvest in 2016 was additional aggravated by a latest rise in thefts.

In accordance with Cote d’Or police division, stealing grapes is punishable by as much as three years in jail and a high-quality of €45,000.

“Grape theft is not only a crime but also directly affects the economy of the region and its wine sector already heavily affected by climate hazards,” the division pressured on its Fb web page.

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