Several years ago, an English strawberry farmer named Mark Spight got so frustrated with people who took advantage of his “Pick Your Own Strawberries” setup, he tore every single strawberry out of the dirt. “The cheek of people was unbelievable. People were treating it like a giant open buffet,” he told the Daily Mail. “We'd expect to make about £40,000 during the strawberry season but we lost £10,000 of that to greedy gorgers.”
So yeah, despite the fact that his family had sold strawberries for 85 years, he ripped the berries out of the ground and replaced them with potentially less gorgeable fruits like red currants, loganberries, and gooseberries. “There's no respect for people's property anymore,” he harrumphed.
Mark, my dude, people shoving fistfuls of strawberries into their mouths isn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to your berry farm. Just ask the farmer in Germany who walked outside and realized that some Fragaria-crazed jackholes had stolen the majority of his own strawberries.
According to DW, a farmer in Lambsheim called the police to report that a thief or thieves had helped themselves to at least two thirds of his strawberry crop. The cops weren’t super helpful: They pretty much said “Yup, those berries were stolen,” added that it seemed like the perpetrators used vehicles so they could drive away with their haul, and asked for witnesses to let them know if they saw anyone who had an excessive amount of strawberries. The BBC estimated that the berries were worth €700 (US $779).
This time last year, a different group of thieves driving rental cars stole “a presumably high number of strawberries" from a different German farmer; they were not caught, despite the fact that they resold the berries on… eBay.
And these types of thefts aren’t limited to Germany: In 2017, a Swedish farmer lost between $6,000 and $8,200 worth of strawberries, after “15 to 20” people helped themselves to 1,500 cartons worth of fruit. There aren’t a lot of happy endings when it comes to stolen fruit; although the Swedish police once found a third of the berries that were taken during a different summer heist, it was only because the thieves had dumped them on the side of the road. “Unfortunately we could not return them to the owner in the state they were in,” a police spokesperson said at the time.
BUT, a German farmer named Heinrich Fuchs opened a letter several Decembers ago, and was shocked by what he found in the envelope. The anonymous sender wrote that he or she was sorry for “[sinning] against you and your strawberries 25-30 years ago.” The letter writer apologized, asked for Fuchs’ forgiveness, and included €20 as, like, an ‘I REPENT’ tax.
Maybe one of the people who ate too many of Mark Spight’s berries will send him a letter someday, too.