French police patrol vineyards for thieves

With 2012 tipped to be a vintage year for champagne, grape prices have gone up, making them vulnerable to theft.

    You would not normally expect the police to spend their time protecting bunches of fruit. But at the end of this year's harvest in Champagne in northern France - a crucial time for wine producers - that is exactly what is happening.

    Wine makers there say 2012 could be a vintage year for champagne and that means the price of grapes has gone up, making them attractive for thieves.

    Champagnes use the same three types of grape - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - destined to go into making a product that's always in demand.

    This year, wet weather has caused vineyards to produce fewer grapes, pushing up their price to around $8 per kg.

    Police have been patrolling the vines around the clock - on horseback by day, and using 4WD vehicles and infrared goggles at night.

    Nobody has been prosecuted, but the thefts have stopped.

    Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from a vineyard near Epernay.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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