Nova Scotia

Arrest of drunken cyclist leads to discovery of likely stolen beets

A senior in Truro, N.S., is thanking police after an officer recovered a bag of beets from an intoxicated cyclist which may have been stolen from her community garden plot.

Senior won't let beet incident beat her, plans to continue gardening

When Olga McCabe-Cain arrived at her King Street community garden plot in Truro on Wednesday night, around twenty of her beet plants were missing. (Andrew Williams)

A senior in Truro, N.S., is thanking police after an officer recovered a bag of beets from an intoxicated cyclist which may have been stolen from her community garden plot.

Olga McCabe-Cain said she arrived at the King Street community garden on the site of the former St. Mary's Elementary School in Truro at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, only to discover that a number of her beet plants were missing.

"It was so disappointing," McCabe-Cain said. "They cleaned the row right out nicely — even padded it over — and left one bunch of beets at the end."

She said she had given up on finding them again, when the unexpected happened.

The beets were, apparently, returned.

Intoxicated cyclist

Hearing the news coverage about the apparent theft, Truro police Const. Kelly Quinn recalled she had spotted a highly intoxicated cyclist weaving in and out of traffic on Monday.

When she went to arrest him, the man tossed a bag over the Salmon River bridge. That bag was full of beets.

Truro police Chief Dave MacNeil said there's no way to prove that the recovered beets were stolen.

She's not going to let them 'beet' her, so to speak.- Andrew Williams, community garden coordinator

"There's no serial numbers on beets. There's no DNA evidence, but it's one of those things, it's pretty highly suspect, I mean, it's an odd vegetable to begin with," he said.

On Tuesday, MacNeil said Quinn took the time on her day off to return to the site of the arrest, retrieve the beets and give them to McCabe-Cain.

"She's an excellent police officer and a real caring and giving person and felt that it wasn't right," MacNeil said. "It was an injustice, and she wanted to make it right by returning the vegetables."

'Pretty low'

Andrew Williams, Truro's urban forest co-ordinator and the man who oversees the community garden, said McCabe-Cain wasn't the only victim of theft. He's heard from three other gardeners who've discovered missing produce.

"That's pretty low," he said.

One gardener lost her beets, another lost half of her onion crop, and the third lost three heads of lettuce.

"It's kind of ironic. Initially the concern was for Truro's urban deer population to be raiding the gardens," Williams said. "And now we have two-legged garden plot raiders."


McCabe-Cain said this was her first time renting a plot in the community garden. She estimates she paid $20 for the plot, $25 dollars for the seeds, and a bit more for netting to keep the pests away.

She had hoped to recoup her costs by harvesting fresh produce from her garden all summer long.

On Saturday, McCabe-Cain said she paid $7 for two small bunches of beets from the local farmer's market and "I shouldn't have to be buying them."

Now she won't have to.

Next steps

McCabe-Cain hopes this arrest means the thefts at the community garden will stop. She doesn't want to lose the peas, beans and Swiss chard left in her garden plot. 

But she isn't sure what more can be done. "People will steal anything. Anything that's loose," she said.

There's been some talk about installing surveillance cameras in the garden, but McCabe-Cain said she isn't convinced they'll be effective. 

The missing beet incident doesn't seem to have discouraged McCabe-Cain from moving forward with her garden. She's planning to plant a second beet crop before the season ends.

As Williams put it: "she's not going to let them 'beet' her, so to speak."