fter a truck carrying five tons of peaches crashed and flipped over on a road outside of the Shandong city of Dezhou last Friday, locals quickly tried to take advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime.
Local police arrived on the scene to find more than 20 villagers, mostly older women, stuffing the peaches, which had been spilled out across the road, into their bags. The driver of the truck was unable to defend his haul, being seriously injured in the accident.
When officers tried to dissuade one auntie from looting, she angrily asked: “Am I breaking the law?! Are you going to arrest us all?!”
Well, yes and no. Police have clarified that looting is, in fact, a crime — punishable by up to 10 days in detention and a 1,000 yuan fine. However, officers did not appear to make any actual arrests at the scene, though they are shown taking the bags of peaches from the villagers’ vehicles and spilling them back out onto the road.
This kind of thing happens with startling frequency in China. Every time that a cargo of oranges, melon seeds, pears, live crabs, yogurt bottles, baby chicks, and sulfur powder is spilled out onto the street, locals frantically rush to pick up as much of it as they can — with some rare exceptions, like beehives for instance.
Supporters of this practice say that much of the produce is damaged from the crash, and would go bad anyway if they were not gathered up by opportunistic locals. Meanwhile, critics have called it nothing more than shameful looting that puts overworked drivers in an even worse spot.
Back in 2016, one truck driver tried desperately to save his stock of overturned oranges from looters in Jiangxi. Instead, he was attacked and roughed up by locals who left with bags full of fruit before police finally showed up.