TROY, Maine — The farmers are fed up with having their farm stands pilfered for cash, and they’re definitely not taking it anymore.
Joyce Benson of Troy, who grows vegetables on the Detroit Road, estimates that over the last two seasons thieves have stolen well over $1,000 from the lock box at her roadside stand, and she’s not the only one in her agricultural community to have been robbed.
“Honor system farm stands are easy prey, “ she said. “All of us have lost money. People have shut down their stands because they can’t afford to keep losing.”
So Benson, 63, decided to fight back, using her wiles rather than weapons. She recently set up a hidden wildlife camera at her farm stand and waited in hopes of catching the perpetrators. This week, she caught one, and gave the photograph to the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office to see if they could continue the investigation.
Detective Jason Bosco said Friday that Sgt. Dale Brown identified the alleged culprit as Dakota T. Durand, a 19-year-old from Brooks.
“Mr. Durand ultimately confessed to his wrongdoings,” Bosco said.
Durand was issued a criminal summons for a Class E misdemeanor, which signifies the theft was worth less than $500. He also was arrested on an unrelated warrant for criminal mischief and booked at Waldo County Jail.
Benson said the problem is widespread. Over the last two summers, her lock box has been pried open over and over again and in less than a week this year she had three break-ins at the stand.
“The farmers are mad, and we’re frustrated,” she said. “We don’t have deep pockets. It was a very tough summer weather-wise for us, so something’s got to be done to stop this behavior. This is our livelihood. This isn’t a little hobby.”
Although she speculated that the thieves might think it’s no big deal to steal the day’s takings from a farm stand, it is.
“If they get $20, or $40 — that’s the difference between having food on our table or not,” Benson said.