Allotment thefts anger Ottery plot holders

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:56 17 June 2010

THEFTS of fruit and vegetables from allotments in Ottery St Mary have left plot holders with a nasty taste in their mouths.

THEFTS of fruit and vegetables from allotments in Ottery St Mary have left plot holders with a nasty taste in their mouths.

A summer of pilfering has led to allotment committee members stepping up efforts to patrol the area in Higher Ridgeway with a clear message. "We are being vigilant and anybody caught will be reported to the police."

Chairman of the allotment committee Adrian Forster said: "I've never known so many thefts in 22 years of coming to the allotments."

"The effort and costs that go into growing are very significant, we start a year in advance, buy equipment, pay rent and put in a lot of preparation. We can accept having to fend off nature, but when people deliberately go there to steal it makes you furious."

"We are being extremely vigilant, monitoring everything and everyone and encourage allotment holders to challenge anybody they don't recognise."

Allotment holder Steve Hamilton says that lettuce, potatoes and raspberries have disappeared from his plot. He said: "We grow things for our own use and not for people to help themselves to whatever they want. With food prices so high we're going to get it."

Mr Forster added: "The police are so busy we feel it would be a strain on resources to have an officer come and patrol this area, but if we have a strong case and identify anyone stealing then we will report them, its is theft at the end of the day."

Mr Forster said thieves even had the nerve to sit and snack on peas and runner beans at the site, leaving casings for plot holders to clean up the following day. He said: "We suffer from badgers, rabbits, pigeons, moles and slugs but I've never seen a rabbit peel a runner bean and leave the casing intact.

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