Vermont’s Maple Sugar Makers Face Not-So-Sweet Vandalism

March 24, 2008

So far, the sugaring season has been not so sweet for some maple syrup producers, who have been the victims of thefts and vandalism.

Last week, three sugarmakers reported that their equipment had been stolen or vandalized and a fourth was robbed of 250 gallons of sap.

“Either somebody in the sugaring business needed it, knew somebody that needed it, or they knew where they could get rid of it,” said Alan Mayer of the $4,400 in equipment that was stolen from his sugar shack in Bristol. “The (state) trooper said it’s more than likely somebody that’s been to your sugaring house and seen what equipment you have there.

Last Friday, Maurice Rheume, president of the Addison County Sugarmakers’ Association, found that his 250-gallon sap tank in Salisbury was empty. He thinks the thief pulled up a truck and drained the tank.

In Topsham, Earl Emerson lost 500 gallons of sap on Saturday after someone shot bullets through his tank.

Officials say the increased price of scrap metal may be driving some of the thefts. Others say the stolen equipment and sap are going to other sugaring operations.

Peter Purinton, a distributor of Leader Evaporator maple sugaring equipment in Huntington, said he often helps people replace equipment after they’ve been robbed.

“It seems to be happening more this year than any year past,” Purinton said. “Now it seems to be more expensive pieces stolen and more frequently.”

The crimes have prompted some sugar makers to take extra precautions.

Emerson has invested about $5,000 in security cameras and Mayer has put a lock on his sugar shack.

“I hope that more and more people are on the lookout for things like (this),” Rheume said


Information from: The Times Argus,

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