PEI

Potato tampering fears prompt security camera use for harvest

P.E.I.'s potato harvest is now underway and many farmers have installed security cameras in their fields and around machinery due to potato tampering concerns.

P.E.I. Potato Board chairman 'confident' tampering took place last fall

Alex Docherty is one of many P.E.I. potato farmers who have installed security cameras in their fields and around equipment. (CBC)

P.E.I.'s potato harvest is now underway and many farmers have installed security cameras in their fields and around machinery due to potato tampering concerns.

We're pretty confident it was this time of year that the cowards did what they did to the industry last fall.- Alex Docherty, P.E.I. Potato Board Chairman

Last fall, sharp steel needles and other metal objects were detected in P.E.I. potatoes at processing plants and in bags sold throughout the Atlantic region. A number of metal objects were found in potatoes again this spring.

The incidents have sent shockwaves through the Island's potato industry.

Alex Docherty, P.E.I. Potato Board chairman, is one of many farmers who have set up cameras for 24/7 surveillance.

"We're pretty confident it was this time of year that the cowards did what they did to the industry last fall. I doubt they're stupid enough to do it again, but it would be great to catch them."

Docherty says his motion-activated cameras have already caught several trespassers on his land. He has handed some of that footage to police and to conservation officers for further investigation.

Farmers are also posting no-trespassing signs on potato fields, something they rarely did in the past.

This security camera cost about $1,600, says Docherty. (CBC)
The potato board is asking all residents of rural P.E.I., especially those living near potato fields, to be vigilant.

"We're just asking if they see suspicious vehicles or anybody in the field that shouldn't be there, just to contact us, the owners of the fields, or the RCMP," said Docherty.

RCMP continue to investigate.

The P.E.I. Potato Board has offered a cash reward to catch whoever's responsible.

The potato industry has also installed metal detectors in many sorting and processing stations. The potato board says the extra security had added millions of dollars to the cost of production.

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