Thieves loot hundreds of kilos of cucumbers from Manitoba farmer in organized heist

Hundreds of kilos of cucumbers were recently stolen from a Manitoba farmer and insiders say large scale produce theft is becoming a growing problem.

'People are getting cleaned out,' says farmer

A Manitoba farmer says thieves are targeting vegetable farms in the province. (Stacy Spensley/Flickr)

Hundreds of kilos of cucumbers were recently stolen from a Manitoba farmer, and insiders say produce theft on a large scale is becoming a growing problem.

"Farmers' fields are being raided," said Erin Crampton, owner of Crampton's Market in Winnipeg.

One of her suppliers, whom she wouldn't name, had as many as 500 kilograms of cucumbers stolen earlier this season.

The farmer found his cucumbers missing and tire tracks leading in and out of the field. 

"People are getting cleaned out," Crampton said.
After ongoing produce thefts in Riverview Garden, one young gardener made her own sign to discourage stealing. (Courtesy Getty Stewart)

She said the thieves are organized and know about growing and crops. 

In the case of her cucumber supplier, she called around other retailers and market farmers' to warn them about the stolen cukes. 

Since the theft, Crampton's supplier installed motion detector cameras and a large fence and gate, expenses that cut into a farmer's profits, she said.

Theft 'absolutely devastating' 

Farming is a tough industry that depends on optimum growing conditions, Crampton said. When a farmer's harvest gets stolen, "it's absolutely devastating," she said. 

In the city, community gardeners and even backyard gardeners have also had their greens stolen.

At Riverview Garden, thieves have become more brazen, taking produce in broad daylight as legitimate community gardeners tend nearby plots, said Rod Kueneman, the garden society's president.

Visitors to the garden must now also be accompanied by a plot owner. 

The garden society had previously installed big signs to discourage thieves. The signs are less effective this year than previous years, Kueneman said.

Despite the ongoing and unchecked thefts, Kueneman isn't outraged with the thieves.

Instead, he encouraged people who are taking the produce to talk to the gardeners, learn about growing and get involved. 

But if the thefts continue, added Kueneman, the society has access to video cameras and may use them to catch the thieves.