Santa Maria man allegedly steals nearly $23,000 of broccoli seeds

A Santa Maria man stole nearly $23,000 worth of broccoli seeds from his former employer, a Nipomo nursery, and then leveraged Facebook to sell some of the stolen goods, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

On Oct. 3, members of the Sheriff’s Rural Crime Unit launched an investigation into an alleged theft of broccoli seeds from Growers Transplanting in Nipomo. An employee of the company then discovered that an ex-employee of the business was selling the same type of broccoli seed under an alias on Facebook.

The following day, deputies contacted the ex-employee through social media to set up a purchase of broccoli seeds. Members of the Rural Crime Unit arrived at the agreed location, inspected the seeds and saw that the lot and batch numbers were a match to the stolen seeds.

Deputies then searched the home of Blanca Paz Trejo, 21, and found the original boxes in which the broccoli seeds had been stored. Authorities estimate the value of the stolen broccoli seeds at $22,750.

Officials returned the seeds to Growers Transplanting Inc. and the sheriff’s department filed felony possession of stolen property charges against Trejo.