The suspects were identified following a report of carob theft inside a property in Almancil, and were found by the GNR in possession of "around 360 kilos of carob, with an estimated value of 900 euros".

As part of the police action, the six men were charged and "12 bags with 360 kilos of carob" were seized in the parish of Almancil, the GNR said, noting that the facts had been referred to Loulé Judicial Court. According to the GNR, "the recovered material was delivered to its rightful owner".

This month, around 200 Algarve carob producers gathered in Loulé to demand that the Government provide "mechanisms to control" commercial circuits, in order to put an end to "almost daily" fruit thefts from their farms.

At the sit-in, called by AGRUPA, the Algarve's only carob and almond producers association, which took place near Loulé Town Hall, the farmers "demanded that a law be promulgated" following the proposal presented by a working group as part of the action plan against the theft of citrus fruits, avocados and carobs.

The number of seizures of stolen carob in the Algarve has doubled compared to last year, with around eight tonnes of the fruit seized in the region since January, according to GNR data revealed to Lusa.

The commercial value of the fruit - an arroba (15 kilos) is worth more than 40 euros, when four years ago it was five euros - makes it the main target for thefts from farms in the region, and several seizures have already been recorded, although the harvest usually lasts until September.

According to data from the GNR's Faro territorial command, between 1st January and 21st July this year, a total of 16 carob seizures have been recorded in the Algarve - double that of the same period in 2021 - with five people arrested and 39 identified. During the same period last year, there were no arrests and only six people identified.

Also in this period, in 2021, the GNR had registered 20 reports of carob theft, a number that increased this year to 73. However, last year around this time, the amount of carob seized (12 tons) exceeded the amount seized this year (eight).

According to the police, the increase in the number of reports may be related "to the fact that the fruit ripened earlier, as well as to the existence of a greater awareness for reporting this type of crime, also motivated by the increase in the price of the product".