|Recently harvested potatoes, August 27, 2010. (Reuters/ENRIQUE CASTRO-MENDIVIL)
RICHMOND, B.C. - A posse of bootleggers or fast-food fanatics could be behind the theft of a football field’s worth of potatoes from a Richmond, B.C., farm, according to RCMP.
Richmond Sgt. Cam Kowalski speculated a group of people targeted a Steveston-area farm sometime between Aug. 17-22 to “plant their own field, or for making vodka or french fries.”
He said fellow Richmond officers are baffled by the theft of about 2,300 kilograms worth of tubers, adding he’s never seen a crop caper of this scale in his entire career.
“Is there a commercial underground potato network that we’re not aware of? I don’t know.”
Richmond Mounties boosted patrols in the city’s agricultural areas following the theft and even deployed ATVs to guard fields.
Kowalski said most likely a group of at least three people carried out the heist, noting only an individual “with a lot of time on their hands” would have been able to pull it off solo.
Farmer Bill Zylmans, who has worked the recently robbed field since he was a child, said the theft will have a long-term impact on his business.
Although of $2,000 to $3,000 in spuds were stolen, the 55-year-old pointed out the potatoes had not grown to their full size when they were plucked and would have been worth much more in the coming weeks.
He’s also experienced thefts at his other fields, where people have snatched blueberries or poached pumpkins. The farmer, however, is at a loss to explain why people would devote so much energy to swiping these vegetables.
“Potato is actually a very cheap commodity,” Zylmans said, adding whoever stole the crop must have little respect for agriculture.
“This is my livelihood. You’re not just helping yourself — farming is a hard business today.”