AN honesty shop at a rural farm has been targeted by thieves amid the coronavirus pandemic. A roadside shop at Sam’s Hens, Croxden, was broken into during the early hours of Monday. The raiders stole a freezer full of ice cream as well as a cash box.
Egg farming was originally a hobby for Sam Hall, who started out aged just eight. By 13, he was selling to local shops. Five years ago Sam – now 25 – turned his passion into a thriving business, supplying farm shops, local butchers, cafes and restaurants.
His shop operates on an honesty-box system and has garnered a loyal customer base in the area, with demand on the rise during the coronavirus lockdown. Now his rural business has been hit by the loss of the honesty box, which had cash inside for customers to make change, and the freezer full of ice cream.
Sam said: “It was Dalton’s Ice Cream freezer, so not only have we lost that, but all the stock that was inside it – it’s all expense. We only sell eggs and then ice cream in the summer. It’s disappointing. I’ve been working extra hours to make sure my customers have got eggs – particularly as demand is higher because of the lock down. I sell all my eggs myself rather than through a contract, so I’m often out delivering to all my customers.
“I got up to check if there were any eggs in the shop as people come along and help themselves at different times and saw that the freezer was gone. I think it happened in the early hours – I thought I heard a car. It’s one of those things, but it is a shame when you’re trying to make sure all your loyal customers have what they need and then one person undoes all your hard work.”
Brian Benjamin from Alton launched an online giving page to help fund the cost of replacing the freezer. He said: “Sam is a small local business serving our community and during the lockdown has provided us with lovely fresh eggs daily and also lovely ice cream. My partner and I feel so disgusted that anybody could do this at this time of uncertainty that we are all facing and she came up with the idea of raising some money to help Sam replace it. Any contribution no matter how small will be a great help.”
People can contribute at justgiving.com – a link is available via a number of community groups on Facebook as well as on the Echo Facebook page.
The theft is now being investigated and a spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “Police were called just after 9am on Monday (11 May) to a report of a break-in at an ‘honesty shop’ in Croxden near Uttoxeter. A quantity of ice-cream and a cash box was stolen. The incident is believed to have taken place sometime between 11pm on Sunday (10 May) and 5am on Monday. Any witnesses or anyone with any information can contact 101, quoting incident 101 of 11 May.”
In an alert to residents, the force also highlighted rural crime across East Staffordshire on Sunday night: “Overnight a number of thefts have taken place in rural locations where roadside displays and stalls that are offering fresh produce and goods for sale based on a ‘honesty’ principle requiring monies to be left have been targeted. We are appealing to home owners and businesses operating in such a way to review their security measures including CCTV, removal of cash or items of value overnight and to be vigilant with their own property. Anyone who sees anything suspicious or has any information that may assist with our investigations is asked to contact Staffordshire Police via 101 or digital 101.”
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