WBZ Weather

December 26, 2010 by staff 

Wbz Weather, (AP) – French police arrested a farmer who fatally shot an intruder whom he suspected of trying to steal coveted truffles of his land on the edge of the southern region of France in Provence.

The farmer of 32 years told authorities he kept his nose patch in the city of Grignan, when he was startled by the intruder and shot him in the legs and head with a shotgun, a police said Wednesday.

Police said the farmer believes that the victim was armed. The victim of 43 years died shortly after the shooting Monday. Authorities did not release the names of two men.

Truffles are fungi mainly found in forests in France and Italy that grow underground in the root systems of host trees. They are prized for their rich, earthy flavors and can reach astronomical prices – making it a prime target for thieves.

Didier Chabert, a truffle-local producer who has known the accused farmer for many years, “said the man had been hit by thieves two or three times this season for truffles, which runs from December to March.

“At this time of year, thieves are waiting for the moon to rise so there is light at night, the thief comes to steal time for the truffle,” said Chabert.

French forests produce 50 tonnes of black truffles in a good year, but bad weather caused the harvest last year falling to 25 tons, “said Chabert, former head of the local association of truffle.

The peak demand for truffles at Christmas time, when the French traditionally splurge on treats such as truffles, champagne, foie gras, shrimp and oysters. Last year prices reached black truffle and 600 pound due to the shortage, “said Chabert. The current price is a little less and 500 pound.

The head of the truffle sellers another association said the problem of theft of truffles has been increasing.

“During the past month, everyone here has been stolen,” said Michel Meille. “We went to local officials and police, but nothing has been done.”

Meille said thieves have no problem with fencing stolen tubers. “All this is done under the table,” he said.

Chabert said his truffle patch is a mile and a half away from the accused farmer. He inspects every morning the footprints of thief’s truffles “witness, but so far it has not taken one. He says he wants his neighbor came to his aid.

“If we were two or three to see the truffles there would be no problem,” said Chabert.

Copyright © 2010 the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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