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    Police patrol vineyards for thieves in northern France

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    Al Jazeera English

    by Al Jazeera English

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    You would not normally expect the police to spend their time protecting bunches of fruit. But at the end of this year's harvest in Champagne in northern France - a crucial time for wine producers - that is exactly what is happening. Winemakers there say 2012 could be a vintage year for Champagne and that means the price of grapes has gone up, making them attractive for thieves. Champagnes use the same three types of grape- Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier- destined to go into making a product that's always in demand. This year, wet weather has caused vineyards to produce fewer grapes, pushing up their price to around $8 per kg. Police have been patrolling the vines around the clock - on horseback by day, and using four-by-four vehicles and infrared goggles at night. Nobody has been prosecuted, but the thefts have stopped. Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from a vineyard near Epernay.