AT THIS time of year the hillsides and fields of our region are full of fresh herbs, particularly the ubiquitous rosemary and thyme.
We are all guilty of pulling a few sprigs off to use in our cooking. Perhaps in a hearty stew or to flavour our Sunday roast.
However few of us are aware that in the Murcia region, these herbs are a protected species and stealing them can lead to arrest.
It is doubtful the police would arrest anyone for stealing a few leaves, but for one man who stole around 100k of the herbs from the Murcian countryside, the story was very different.
The unnamed man was arrested on a routine document check by police on the RM-714 road in Caracava de La Cruz. On closer inspection, the police were amazed to discover the massive haul.
The man admitted picking them from fields in the Calasparra municipality, where harvesting is restricted to those issued with permits and was arrested.
Police have seen an increase in illegal harvesting for herbs recently as prices have risen sharply.