More apple picking arrests in Londonderry
LONDONDERRY - A late-night trip to Moose Hill Orchards ended in arrests and theft charges for five people believed to have been picking apples without paying for them.
Five Massachusetts residents were taken into police custody late Tuesday evening after a concerned citizen spotted them apparently stealing apples from the orchards along Ash Street.
Police were alerted to the incident just after 11 p.m. when a cell caller observing the scene reported it to the police, Lt. Kevin Cavallaro said.
According to Cavallaro, the five illicit apple pickers were seen picking apples and loading them into a tan, Toyota van with Massachusetts plates.
Arrested at the scene were Joanne Liu, 42, of Brighton; Li Zhu, 54, of Malden; Ziao Fang Guan, 54, of Quincy; Yan Fen Tang, 57, of Boston; and Zuo Shu Xue, 31, of Quincy.
Each of the five suspects faces theft charges and will be arraigned in the Derry District Court on Nov. 5.
It's been a tough season for local orchards, with four other Massachusetts residents arrested for similar thefts earlier this month.
On Oct. 11, police arrested Quincy residents Tony Wong, 57; Wai Wong, 27; Hang Wong, 58 and Steven Wong, 19, after reportedly loading their car with apples after hours on Pillsbury Road.
The Wongs, who reside at the same Massachusetts address and all face charges of theft by deception, will also be arraigned in the Derry District Court on Nov. 5.
Mack's Apples, home of Moose Hill Orchards, spans over 400 acres, with 100 of those acres devoted to apple farming. Most of those orchards are open to the public, with several U-Pick stations set up to allow visitors to pick and purchase fruit by the pound during harvest season.
Apple picking has ended for the season, but the farm is still open during the daytime for pumpkin picking.
Last month, staff at the local orchard began keeping a watchful eye on parking areas after several instances where daytime customers sneaked fruit into their trunks without paying.
In most of those cases, orchard staff was able to catch the would-be-fruit thieves and ask for payment, according to orchard manager Mike Cross.
But just to make sure, the farm has hired a few extra staff members to wear street clothes and patrol the parking areas during busy fall days.
Local police said they regularly patrol the roads around the town's three apple orchards, especially during the autumn season.