The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Twist wrench and grab


Photo: Home grown flowers

Photo: Home grown flowers

Considering that the gateside stand has been up and running for nearly nine months now, thefts from the stand have been low.

When they do happen it’s a shock. I spot that we have sold something and my heart lifts but when I open the cash box it is empty. Before the school holidays began some teenage boys on bikes started nicking stuff. As profits are quite low, this was depressing. But I scotched their game by working in the front garden around that time that they passed each day. They knew that I knew. After a while they just stared ahead and pedalled slowly by.

Sometimes people leave 2p for a pot of jam. The jar alone costs us 30p. Occasionally someone steals flowers to present to a loved one. I wonder what they would think if they knew that it was stolen?

Sales on the gateside stand have been really slow this month. But yesterday we had a good day and sold 9 jars of marmalade and chutney. Usually I bring the stand in at seven o’clock but as it was such a glorious and sunny evening I decided to leave it out just a bit longer. Perhaps I could tempt another passer by?

And I did. Someone nicked the cash box and all the takings.

At first I couldn’t work out how they had taken it. The bicycle lock that slips through the handle was still locked. Then I spotted the handle – it had been wrenched off the cash box and left neatly on the top of the stand.

Some village newcomers are suspected of stealing stuff from the village shop and a whole day’s batch of bread and cakes were recently stolen from outside the shop. It’s delivered in the early hours of the morning so no one saw the culprits. In a small old fashioned community it’s a shock when trust is broken – I should have been more vigilant.

This morning I ordered a much sturdier cash box from Amazon. I was so angry that it was tempting to order a stun gun too. The handle of the new box is bolted to the lid.  I’ll clear the cash box regularly from now on. I’m not going to be beaten by these thugs.

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  1. brightspark

    Fiona, I am so sorry about this.
    Having read all the comments, I think Iris’s suggestion really hits home, anyone who has an iota of a conscience – if there is a conscience at all, as Joey said – would be unsettled by those words if they intended to pay 2p!!
    I think the stealing of a cash box though, is in a different ballpark. If the intention is there, then words won’t stop them.
    More frequent emptying may have to be the answer.
    Very saddening time, and Fiona, don’t waste your time being angry with them – they don’t deserve it!

  2. Fizzyian

    My friend Melissa had the same problem from her stand, she caught one person in the act…. a middle aged woman in a silver Mercedes (it’s not always the kids and ‘scruffys’)….

    She has now installed a sensor which, when the cash box is opened, sounds a nice loud clucking sound so that she can hear it, and so that anyone abusing it immediately knows they have been heard.

  3. So upsetting when the feel of a village community is spoiled, you don’t know who you can and cannot trust. Unfortunately, as much as I hate to say it, it is a sign of the times. I agree with Iris, a note on the stand will go a long way, if only to raise the awareness of other honest buyers, and a bit of village gossip goes a long way! A note directly to the thief i.e. Do not steal our cash or produce, we are watching you! might reach out to their conscience (if indeed there is one in there somewhere)

  4. Oh, I can’t believe those people! Doesn’t everybody want to have a clear conscience? I have been rooting for your side gate stand since the moment that you put it up.

    Would it help to use some psychology on those people by putting up a sign that says something like this: “Surely you don’t think of yourself as a common thief. Please pay for the items that you take. Don’t steal them. Otherwise you will always know that you are a thief.”

  5. I was so sorry to read this Fiona, what a wrench. I do hope you can come up with a solution that will put anyone else off from having a go.

  6. I’m sorry to hear about this Fiona. Even if its the more desperate times,it seems to me that whoever did this knew how to do it. They went so far as to wrench the handle off, took some thought in order to make it quick. Seems they’ve done this before then. Habitual thieves.

  7. Alas, while a very tempting option the stun gun would probably get you more jail time than the little !”£*$£%^ will get if caught! However, I like the idea of webcam security and a letter with “directions” for those who don’t feel like paying.

    I forget where – a church I think, but I have seen a setup where the top was a moneybox with a sturdy lock facing the wall it was chained to, and the bottom was filled with second hand books for sale which acted as ballast. Maybe you could just use a sandbag to weight it or even a small swingbin for folks to (carefully) recycle their jars? Bit difficult to nick something that heavy.

  8. What a shame, especially when you had had such a good day.
    I used to buy from a stand that had a long drainpipe to put the money in – it went over the locked gate and down into the letterbox. another one had a pipe running into a large metal box which was bolted to the concrete drive.
    good luck with your new box

  9. shelley

    sorry to hear of the theft; some people are so unkind!
    Take care

  10. Magic Cochin

    So sorry to read of this Fiona – b******s!

    One stall near here now asks people to put money through the letter box because of thefts from the honesty box. And the farm gate stall I buy my veg from in the fens does the same – it also has CCTV in the hut where the veg is displayed.

    What a sad turn of events.


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