Eyes peeled for potato thieves

Thomas Monnington
Thomas Monnington

A FARMER has shamed potato thieves, by pinning up ‘thief of the week’ pictures at the farm.

Mapsons Farm, in Sidlesham, has a roadside potato cart with an honesty box and CCTV.

But farmer Tom Monnington said the amount of potato thefts is ‘unbelievable’.

He catches the perpetrators on CCTV, and sticks a ‘thief of the week’ photo on the cart, in the hope it will deter the thefts.

“It is not always who you think,” he said. “I am always surprised at the sort of person it is. It tends to be affluent people, with nice cars, well dressed people. People who have actually got the money to pay for them.

“We’ve got a couple of 70-year-old men who tend to take not just one bag, but three for their mates.

“We’ve had a mother in a 4x4 with children in the back.”

He said, since he started ‘thief of the week’, the thefts had gone down from about three a day to three a week. He also gives the police the registration details of thieves caught on CCTV.

“It is unbelievable, the fact that people have the audacity to steal someone’s products and not pay for them,” he said. “It costs us a lot to produce them. I’m always shocked to be honest.

“They are half the price of buying them in the supermarket.”

The farm sells most of its potatoes to Tesco, but Mr Monnington sells some on site too.

But he said, when the farm has a bad year, the potatoes sold at the front gate pay for labour.

“It is very up and down, some years you make a profit some years you make a loss,” he said.

So it is important the farm can keep it up – without the worry of the potato thieves.

In December, if thieves pay for their potatoes, the farm will be donating money to charity too.

“Between now and Christmas we will be putting a percentage of our takings into a couple of local charities,” he said.

The farm is donating to The Children of Chichester Organisation (COCO) and Friends of Peadiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).