ENOSBURGH, Vt. (WGGB) – A Vermont maple sugar farmer lost his entire crop, worth thousands of dollars and months of hard work, all in one horrible night.
Sugaring is a way of life for Stephen Perley. The Franklin County sugar maker has seen the family operation evolve from a handful of trees and horse drawn sap collection, to high-tech tubing zig-zagging between 13,000 taps.
There’s one sign of the changing times, though, that this sugar maker wasn’t prepared for.
Thieves made off with his maple syrup.
Maple sugar farmer Stephen Perley says, “They broke the motion detector there and there was glass all over the ground and the cover for the lights was knocked off sitting on the groumd and that was the first thing we noticed.”
Perley’s son says the thieves struck Wednesday night, and the tracks tell the tale of how they managed to move four full stainless steel barrels from the sugaring house to the road.
The 160 gallons of stolen syrup were waiting to be shipped to a commercial vendor. Now, the Perley’s are out $7,000
“These young fellows need money and don’t want to work for it, so stealing is the easy way out. I’m not as tough as I used to be, but 25 years ago, I probably would have had them caught by now,” says Perley.
Instead, he reported the theft and he’s leaving the investigating to the Sheriff’s office.
Detective Sgt. Kevin Bushey says, “I can’t emphasize enough these days, even up here in the country, that surveillance systems and alarms, I think unfortunately that has to be the way we’re going to have to go even here in the state of Vermont.”
Bushey says that thieves know the value of Vermont’s liquid gold and are trying to cash in on the crop.
Wishing for the ways of old, Perley has reluctantly agreed to lock up his liquid gold and for added security cameras and alarms to catch anyone trying to creep on their property.
“We’ll be watching. It’s not uncommon for one of us to drive up and down the road in the middle of the night now, just to see if someone is driving around or hanging around,” Perley says.
A sour end to Vermont’s sweet season for a sugar making family trying to salvage an already rough season.