THIEVES have stolen two hundred-weight (over 100 kilos) of potatoes the hard way - by digging them from a field at the Birches.
Local grower William Wortley reckons that it took the robbers about an hour to dig the high quality Arran Victory (Arran Blues) potatoes from his field at Clonmacate Road during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“It’s the second time it has happened,” he said. “A few years ago, the thieves struck on a Sunday afternoon and took about the same weight of potatoes away in a tractor in broad daylight, after it cruised up and down the road. It’s a remote area and there are hedges on each side.
“This time, it happened under the cloak of darkness, and there is little to go on. But it’s very discouraging. By the time you buy seed potatoes and look after them by spraying and all the rest, then they disappear from the ground, you wonder if it’s worth it. And when you consider what they cost us to produce, what the supermarkets pay us, and the price they charge the customers, it’s no wonder farming isn’t paying.”
‘The great potato robbery’ is the latest raid on the area by thieves. Retired nurse Sandra Quinn had a substantial amount of jewellery - including her engagement ring and other rings handed down the generations - stolen. And while they were insured, she reckons she won’t recoup the full value, and with the rings having sentimental value, they will never be replaced.
The thieves broke in through the back door, and ironically Sandra had organised a local coffee event in her home, with the proceeds going towards the Neal Turkington Fund - Neal being the young Portadown Gurkha officer murdered in Afghanistan two years ago. “Thankfully, I had transferred the money to the fund,” she recalled. “Since then, we have taken a number of security measures, but it didn’t used to be like this in the country.”
William Wortley added that there had been several break-ins in the lane over the years, with pensioners robbed and one badly beaten up. “It’s a scourge of the country areas these days, and a very sad one. This is a great place to live, with fertile soil, overall peace and tranquillity and we certain don’t need this. I enjoy farming, but this is very discouraging.”
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