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. Rosemary

    So sorry about what happened,we have lots of stalls around here selling wonderful things.It would be such a shame if people stopped having them.A very interesting thing happened locally last year,a man who had dug up several bags of potatoes and onions from fields during the night was found dead of a heart attack at the crime scene.How’s that for justice !!!!!

  2. Shereen

    Just a thought, inspired by reading the other replies: what about a sign on the stall saying “This stall is covered by CCTV and thieves will be prosecuted”?

    I guess it would depend where the stall is in relation to the house, but the thought of being identified might dissuade some.

  3. Shereen

    I’m sorry you’ve suffered at the hands of thieving sods, Fiona. Hopefully what goes around, comes around.

  4. Prudence Morgan

    I am so sorry to hear this. This year I have had my hanging baskets stolen and my OH, who is a (very) small builder had his lock-up broken into and £3000’s worth of tools stolen. It really is so depressing but I’ve replaced the baskets and OH is buying replacements as and when…….

  5. I have just answered the door to yet another set of “Do you want your windows washed/gardening jobs done/any thing?” callers. I live in a quiet cul-de-sac on the edge of a market town in West Wales, but was so wary of this pair that I took down their van reg. no. Last year our garden shed was broken into in the middle of the night, when I was asleep, on my own. Previous owners had put up one of those fake red alarm boxes. Perhaps it looked like an office, but when they realised it just contained garden tools, they took nothing. A neighbour’s summer-house was also broken into.

    I know of farmers locally who have had major equipment stolen from their yards, people who have had their oil tanks drained (gravity fed into a drum inside a transit van!), as well as lots of petty theiving.

    I grew up around here, when it was common to not lock doors in the countryside; when houses in towns had their keys hanging on string behing the letter box.

    Times have changed, and the standards that we grew up with appear to have gone. More’s the pity.

    You appear to have a choice – to continue on the basis that most people are like yourselves, or to guard against those who are not.

  6. casalba

    I’m so sorry and also sad to read this. (I think the saucer is a very good idea, but I see you have already ordered anotherr box.)

  7. Michelle from Oregon

    Sorry Fiona, I should have made my suggestion in my earlier comment.
    My Mother has a wreath stand for the holidays, and for her cash box I took a old mailbox, screwed it down to a large wood table, cut a slot in the top for money deposits, and then locked the door shut with a padlock.
    It has a sign on it directing people to put their money in the mailbox, and if they need change please come up to the house and we will gladly make change.
    So far, (knock wood) so good….

  8. ClayEarthCafe

    What a pain.

    I grew up in a village shop, and we had a lot of problems with theft. I don’t think people bother to think through the inconvenient fact that if they steal from a stall or shop that a real person suffers. People we knew, liked and who got on well with us used to steal from us.

    To take a different track though, I remember while training for a charity walk about 8 years ago I wound up lost, sun burned, down and bleeding. I came across a stall with an honesty box for payment. The joy was overwhelming! I paid for some raspberries and a jar of jam. It really turned round my mood. 8 years later I still remember those raspberries with great fondness!

    I never got to tell the person with the stall what that had meant to me. So let me tell you – that I really value what you’re doing. Its inspirational. So keep on keeping on (and empty your money box frequently 😉 )

  9. Cottagegardenfarmer

    Don’t let these sad losers put you off Fiona, I had someone take eggs and smash them in the lane once last year when I was selling my surplus eggs by the gate, it’s somehow quite shocking even though it’s such a small crime in a small community.Luckily it’s a tiny minority who act like this, and most people really appreciate gateside stands like yours. So keep up the good work!

  10. Hi Fiona and Danny,
    I read your blog with great interest.
    We grow lots of our own vegetables and fruit. I love some of your tips – we are so going to wrap our potatoes in newspaper – as long as I remember:)
    I am truly sorry that you have a thief or thieves in your neighbourhood. I have admired your gate side stand from a distance, but know that if we tried to set up something like that outside our house it would be vandalised and robbed. I had hoped your area was different and people around you had values. Again, I am sorry for your losses both of money and trust. I think these horrible people are the nasty minority but they affect us all. Love to you both.

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