Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/09/allotment_thieves/

Veg rustlers hit with conditional discharge after roadside lineup

Allotment holder spots marrow with distinctive stripe

By Team Register

Posted in Security, 9th November 2011 14:51 GMT

A pair of petty thieves were hit with a conditional discharge after pilfering a load of fruit and veg from allotments in Cambridgeshire.

The light but grubby fingered vegetable rustlers were searched by suspicious cops across the road from allotments in Brampton, Cambs.

Lawrence Miller, 44, and Steven Randall, 46, were found to be carrying a bag of what appeared to be freshly harvested produce, the Telegraph reports.

The suspicious cops called out allotment holders for a roadside ID parade of the haul, which included two or three marrows, a butternut squash, leeks and cabbages. Other reports suggest there was also a quantity of rhubarb, beetroots and cabbages.

Allotment holders instantly ID'd their stolen veg, with one pointing to what the Telegraph described as "a marrow with a distinctive stripe".

Kevin Warboys, defending Randall, told the court that both men were "day to day grinding along in extreme poverty" and had stolen the roots and fruits to feed their families. The pair were ordered to pay £20 compensation and £85 costs, and given a conditional discharge.

Allotment thefts are a growing problem in the UK, as rising food prices take their toll, and the middle classes discover the joy of dodging Waitrose's organic price tags by having a few convenient rods on what would otherwise be wasteground.

Extremely smallholders have taken to starting allotment watches.

Your reporter has heard horror stories of entire apple trees being denuded overnight or entire plots of potatoes being turned over by callous thieves. He was told of one incident in Wimbledon where a veg rustler was chased by angry growers and cornered up a tree, only to insist he'd done nothing as: "It's a community allotment, and I'm part of the community. ®