Caught on camera: alleged farm stand thefts

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 5:26 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Hundreds of dollars worth of fruits and vegetables don’t usually vanish. But that’s what happened after a string of thefts at Lewis County roadside stands.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says surveillance video shows an unidentified woman allegedly stealing from Bush Gardens’ produce stand in Deer River.

Owner Loren Bush says the woman managed to make off with nearly $500 worth of goods.

“I’m going to say this is the first time in 15 years that we’ve been ripped off like that. I mean she filled up her full car,” said Bush.

Produce stands like the one at Bush Gardens rely on an honor system, which Bush says is usually respected.

In response to this incident, Bush plans to tighten security at his stand. He’ll put up cameras and possibly implement additional in-person supervision

“When somebody takes items in bulk, it’s a lot of labor, pretty costly,” he said.

At this time, the woman’s identity is unknown but Bush has a message for her and any other would-be thieves, especially if their situation stems from hunger.

“I would always offer. If they want to help in the garden and put food on their table, I would absolutely take them up on that offer. No reason to steal from us,” said Bush.

Just down the road at Wakefield Apiaries, around $130 worth of honey was stolen. Co-owner Richard Wakefield says he hasn’t seen an incident like this since early 2020.

“We have such a good customer base. They’re just wonderful people and I’d hate to shut it down just cause of one bad apple. They’d ruin it for everyone else. I still have faith in mankind,” he said.

The sheriff’s office is investigating.

The vendors’ trust in the public may be shaken but it hasn’t been shattered. Now their next step is to wait and see what the investigation reveals.