A man identified as “A.M” made off with $1 million worth of saffron before Dubai authorities launched an undercover investigation to nab him!
Who would have thought that stealing saffron would be such a lucrative venture? An expert, apparently. Formerly a spice trader in Iran, a man living in Dubai stole more than $1 million worth of saffron from street merchants over the past year. Using the tricks of his former trade, the unnamed bandit disguised himself as a porter and then lifted the aromatic spice from 11 shops while their owners were away. Having received tip offs from locals, police eventually launched an undercover investigation to capture the elusive thief.
A sack of saffron
Word got out that several shop owners were losing their saffron, which goes for up to $5,000 a pound these days, except in Canada, where it costs up to 18,000 CAD for a kilogram.
So people started to suspect “A.M.” (Gulf newspapers don’t name suspects in newspapers or show their faces on television because their transgressions bring shame on their families) and CID’s Criminal Investigation Section used an undercover agent to trick the guy, Gulf News reports.
Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Humaid Al Murri told the paper the spice was disappearing either at night or between 2 and 3.30 pm, when most people take their lunch breaks.
When police learned that a man was looking for someone to buy a large quantity of Saffron, their undercover informant lured him into a deal that finally resulted in his capture. He in turn claims to be working for “A.K” – an Afghan man – who admitted to the crime and showed police where he stores his spicy stockpile.
Saffron is an increasingly scarce commodity. Since 93% of it is exported from Iran, which is suffering under the weight of extremely stringent sanctions, the supply has to be taxed. Greece is the second largest supplier, while Morocco and Kashmir tie as the third largest producers.
What makes saffron so difficult to obtain? In order to produce just one pound of the hey-smelling, yellow colored spice so popular in Persian, Arab, European, and Turkish dishes we love, it is necessary to harvest a football field full of autumn-flowering perennial plants called Crocus sativus. And for a kilogram, two football fields of plants are needed.
Seems like saffron is the new gold?
Image credit: Cartoon Thief, Shutterstock
:: Gulf News
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