Police caught a gang of allotment thieves after holding a bizarre identity parade – of stolen VEGETABLES.
Lawrence Miller, 44, and Steven Randall, 46, were caught carrying a bag of stolen fruit and veg at allotments in Brampton, Cambs.
To get evidence against the duo police lined up the food on the roadside and asked allotment holders to identify their stolen vegetables.
They instantly spotted their crops, including a marrow with a distinctive stripe, rhubarb, leeks and cabbages.
The two offenders were left looking red-faced as beetroot when they were ordered to pay £20 of compensation and £85 costs at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court.
Miller and Randall, who were both on benefits, were said to be living “in extreme poverty” and stole the vegetables to feed their families.
Both men were granted a conditional discharge.
Prosecutor Penny Cannon said police spotted them run across the road into the allotment and when they stopped and searched them found stolen produce.
She said: “Police carried out a unique investigation by photographing the fruit and vegetables and then putting them on the verge, asking people if they could recognise or identify the vegetables.”
One of the plots had also been damaged on the same night, the court heard,
They’ve waged war against deer and battled hungry possums that snatch tomatoes just when they are at the peak of their flavor. But there’s one pest the Newark Street gardeners have been unable to thwart: a certain two-legged rat with a penchant for peonies.
For 10 years, gardeners in this Northwest Washington neighborhood believe the same man has been stealing spring blooms from their plots in the Newark Street Community Garden. Not just a few stems, mind you, but bunches — as many as 30 to 50 at a time.
“He does this every year, starting with the peonies,” said Marcia Stein, one of the flower thief’s victims, who lost a bunch of blooms this month. “Last year, he stole all of my peonies.”
Gardeners say the suspect has expensive taste. He ignores lesser flowers in favor of pricier blooms. (At Johnson’s Florist and Garden Center in Cleveland Park, peonies sell for $8.99 a stem.)
And when he steals them, he’s not gentle: He rips the blooms right out of the ground.
For years, the gardeners kept quiet, fearful that publicity would encourage more thefts.