‘We can’t afford to have that’: Island farm stand owners frustrated by thefts

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A suspect in a recent theft at Eric White's farm stand in Metchosin is shown.

Farm stand owners throughout the Greater Victoria area are frustrated with the increasing trend of stolen produce and money.

Eric White, farm stand owner on Metchosin Road, told CHEK News has had to deal with approximately one theft per month.

“Plants were going missing, produce and eggs,” White said on Friday. “We can’t afford to have that.”

The latest theft happened on Wednesday.

Surveillance video shows someone taking a variety of vegetables – and even taking a bite of one before walking off without paying.

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According to White, produce isn’t the only thing that’s been stolen from his stand.

“The last person I think reached their hand in [the cash drop area] and pulled money out,” he explained.

White isn’t the only farmer dealing with this issue.

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Fiona Hamersley Chambers, owner of Metchosin Farm, said she has seen similar thefts at her stand.

“Mostly if we put jams out or eggs. Occasionally people will steal plants or seed packages,” Hamersley Chambers explained.

According to Central Saanich Police, this is a widespread problem.

“This time of year brings out the people who choose to go and take items without paying for them and we see an uptick this time of year,” Sgt. Paul Brailey told CHEK News.

White said this is very frustrating to deal with, adding even though a few dollars worth of vegetables doesn’t seem like much, each theft quickly adds up.

“This is how I pay my rent so it does still [affect me] a little,” he said.

White installed a number of surveillance cameras around his stand to try to deter thieves.

He said while it hasn’t fully deterred them, it has allowed him to catch them in the act.

“They are being reported, their license plates are being seen, they’re hopefully being caught,” White said. “I hope it’s just discouraging, knowing that it’s not something you can walk up and do without having your face spread across social media or sent to the police.

Brailey said it’s a good idea for farm stands to install some sort of motion detector or surveillance camera as it helps with reported theft investigations.

Hamersley Chambers advises those shopping at farm stands to pay with cash or e-transfer right away so the owners don’t think you’re stealing from them.

White said if you don’t, “We will catch you.”

SEE ALSO: ‘I want to know who did this’: Families in shock after thieves steal bronze from Nanaimo-area graves

Mackenzie Read

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