An Alberta garlic farm was on track for a bumper crop this summer.
Then the heat wave arrived, scorching almost half the crop. And several weeks later, thieves hit the farm — not once, but twice — making off with about 1,500 garlic plants that they’d yanked out of the ground.
“I know times are tough right now, but it’s kind of a shock to see this happen,” said Nina Ulmer, owner of Nina’s Homegrown Hardneck Garlic in Stony Plain, Alta.
The garlic heists resulted in losses of approximately $3,000, Ulmer told CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active. There was also substantial damage to the remaining crops, as the thieves trampled other plants while uprooting the garlic by hand.
The first theft occurred July 24 and the second on Aug. 2. Ulmer believes both took place overnight.
After the first incident, the farm installed a trail camera that was able to capture images of two people who slipped into the field nine days later. The photos weren’t good enough quality for police to identify the culprits, she said.
When RCMP came out after the second incident, officers told her that “no one has ever experienced a garlic heist in Parkland County.”
With a rueful laugh, Ulmer added: “We’re definitely breaking trail, I suppose, in that area.”
Farm helpers at Nina’s Homegrown Hardneck Garlic measure a row of stolen crop after one of the thefts. (Suppled by Nina Ulmer )
The hardneck variety that Ulmer grows is planted in the fall then harvested throughout the summer.
Because the amount stolen was so large, Ulmer expects the pilfered plants will be sold to start a new garlic farm that would have the ability to produce up to 8,000 plants next year.
“To purchase this amount of seed garlic would cost several thousands of dollars,” she said.
RCMP in Parkland County, located west of Edmonton, said the public should watch for new garlic farms popping up in the area, or a flood of the bulbs at farmers’ markets.
“I’ve never heard anything like this where people are actually stealing plants,” said Cpl. Cuneyt Zanbak.
The case could be difficult to solve as it took place at night with no known witnesses, he said.
However, if the police manage to track down the garlic, the case may be solved by analyzing DNA to see if it matches the remaining garlic at Ulmer’s farm.
“It would probably get heavy into the forensic side of things,” Zanbak said.
Radio Active6:42The great garlic heist
Nina Ulmer is the owner of Nina’s Homegrown Hardneck Garlic. 6:42
Worried the culprits could return, Ulmer’s husband watched the fields overnight until the remaining crops were harvested.
“We’re breathing a big sigh of relief now that there’s no more in the field that could be stolen,” she said. “But it was a tense week.”
Source From CBC News