by: Christine McCarthy Updated:
WALTHAM, Mass. - A serial tomato thief has stolen hundreds of pounds of the crop from a local farm over three annual Labor Day weekend trips, farm workers told Boston 25 News.
After the first theft, in which approximately 300 pounds of tomatoes were stolen, the Waltham Fields Community Farm installed a surveillance system.
The following year, a woman was caught on camera selecting about 150 pounds of tomatoes and carrying them to her car before fleeing, workers said.
Last Friday, just before the holiday weekend, video shows what appears to be the same woman, in the same outfit and driving the very same car. She pulls up, casually sifts through the tomatoes in the outdoor storage area, choosing the ones she wants and carries crates full of 100 pounds of tomatoes to the car, Farm Manager Erinn Roberts said.
One worker had staked out the farm with her husband, waiting for the thief to arrive early Saturday morning, but the suspect had come the morning before.
“It made me so angry, frankly,” Roberts said. “To see someone so cavalier and just kind of so casual about stealing all of these tomatoes over Labor Day weekend… when we’re appreciating the labor going on in our country, it makes me feel pretty upset.”
The crime is especially upsetting because the farm donates vegetables, fruit and herbs to several local charities, providing for those in need. Kids can also attend educational programs, learning to grow local, organic produce.
The crops also feed people and families who are part of its Community Supported Agriculture program, in which shareholders pay for a portion of the harvest the farm grows.
Farm workers notified police after each theft. Waltham police could not comment on the case on Monday.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Roberts said, “and we have a lot of direct relationships with the people and the organizations where it’s going.”
Workers hope anyone who recognizes the thief in the surveillance photos will contact police at (781) 314-3600.
While Roberts believes the thief has chosen Labor Day weekend because it’s a perfect time for the tomato harvest, she can’t help but wonder about the motive for the crime.
“I just wonder what she tells the people who know her where she got all these tomatoes from every year,” Roberts said. “I’m curious what her story is.”
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