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Road-side stalls disappear as thefts frustrate producers

EIGHT dozen eggs were stolen from Eumundi sisters Tamzyn and Savanne's roadside stall. The young girls collect $4 for a carton of eggs and take what's left after buying chicken food as pocket money.
EIGHT dozen eggs were stolen from Eumundi sisters Tamzyn and Savanne's roadside stall. The young girls collect $4 for a carton of eggs and take what's left after buying chicken food as pocket money. Amber Macpherson

THE thief who stole 96 eggs from a roadside "honesty" stall run by two young Eumundi girls can be thankful that times have changed.

Not so thankful are market gardeners who have had to give up an income source once common on the Sunshine Coast but now rapidly disappearing because of those who would rather thieve than pay.

Queenslanders once reached for rough justice to deal quickly with two acts of dishonesty.

Those who stole mud crabs from a pot that didn't belong to them could quickly find shots fired over their heads or the side of their boat holed.

And those that stole honesty boxes or from roadside stalls could end up flogged if caught.

Not that it was ever much of an issue. It was acceptable, for example, to take a crab from a pot as long as it was replaced with a tallie of beer or some other exchange.

Honesty boxes with stalls of fresh produce once dotted the Sunshine Coast from Buderim to the hinterland.

It was common for people to got for a drive to purchase their weekly fruit and vegetables where they found them.

Do you pay when taking produce from road-side stalls?

This poll ended on 25 October 2016.

Of course. Honesty boxes don't work if people aren't honest. - 88%

Usually. If I don't have the right money I'll bring it next time. - 2%

No. Why put things by the road if you don't want people to take them? - 8%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Noosa Farmers Market convenor Shane Stanley said many local farmers had stopped putting produce and honesty boxes near their farms after too many incidents of stealing.

"A lot of our guys won't do them," Mr Stanley said.

"People aren't honest at all and they take them. I've spoken to a lot of farmers, they get tired of people pinching them."

Sisters Savanne and Tamzyn from Eumundi collect the eggs from their chicken pen and sell them on the side of a nearby road from an esky with an honesty box system.

The girls sell the eggs for $4 a dozen and use the money to take care of their chickens, and take what's left over as pocket money.

On the morning of October 8, Savanne, Tamzyn and their father found a thief had stolen eight dozen eggs as well as the esky.

Their father described the theft as a "low act".

"Some dishonest individual stole a whole esky with eight dozen free range eggs. It's so disappointing," he said.

"The money that my daughters make pays for chook food, and a little extra for their savings."

The father posted about the stolen eggs on an online community notice board, and he said everyone was outraged to hear about it.

"I jumped straight online and people were just ropeable," he said.

What could be the strangest part of the stolen egg saga is that the thief took off with the esky and 94 eggs, but left the honesty box with money in it.

Savanne said she and her sister were upset to find that someone had stolen the eggs, as the extra money was a reward for their hard work of taking care of the chickens.

"It's a cycle, we sell the eggs and buy chicken food for the chickens, and then they lay more eggs," Savanne said.

"With our pocket money, sometimes we go down to Brisbane and have a girls day, we go shopping."

Mr Stanley said he was disgusted to hear someone would steal from a family's farm.

"That's disgraceful, to be honest," Mr Stanley said.

"It's really disheartening for those children to go through that.

"They're obviously making an effort to collect the eggs each day, and some person pinched them."

Mr Stanley hoped Savanne and Tamzyn would continue their egg business despite the robbery.

"I hope they keep going," he said.

"You can't get more local than that, the food miles, the environmental impact, and encouraging young people to get involved in primary production is so important.

"I feel for the family."

Tamzyn had a message for the perpetrator, asking them to reflect on their actions before they think of stealing again.

"You should have a long hard think about what you've done," she said.

The family would like the egg thief and anyone with information to come forward.  

Topics:  egg thief eumundi farmers market honesty box road side stall


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