FELLSMERE — Police are giving residents tips on how they can prevent trespassers from coming into their yard and illegally taking their palmetto berries, a news release stated.
Each year, law enforcement agencies across the state get numerous calls for illegal berry pickers. It’s illegal to pick berries on state land or any public or private property without permission, the release states.
Those who do so can be arrested for trespassing. Taking berries without permission is considered a theft and can either be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount and value of berries taken, the release states.
Here are some tips residents can follow to protect their palmetto berries:
- Put “No Trespassing” signs on the property and signs indicating berry pickers aren’t allowed
- Be aware of strange vehicles driving on the road; report suspicious activity
- Join the Neighborhood Watch and share information with your neighbors
- Pick your own berries or have someone pick them for you. Pickers will move on if they don’t see any berries on your property
Illegal berry pickers are a concern for residents because they see strangers on private land in neighborhoods, with some carrying machetes, the release states.
If a stranger walks into a property to pick berries illegally, property owners should call 911 immediately, avoid confrontations, maintain a visual on the stranger and consider prosecution if the illegal berry picker is caught.
Having the pickers trespassed from the property doesn’t always prevent them from returning or picking berries at other properties, the release states.