A farmer who sells eggs in Mid Devon is warning other producers to be more vigilant after 22 boxes were stolen from her farm.
Loraine Stevens, 70, has been selling eggs from Westlake Farm in Oakford near Tiverton for several years.
At about 6pm on Monday - the evening before Pancake Day, she put the boxes full of eggs into a cupboard at the entrance to the farm. Two hours later when her granddaughter walked past she noticed that the door was open and the eggs gone.
The automatic light that was fixed inside had also been ripped out.
Loraine, who has lived on the farm with her husband Richard for 50 years, said: “It’s absolutely heart-breaking. I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love my hens and I enjoy it.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened. I don’t want to part with my hens but I shall have to if this carries on.”
Usually Loraine has CCTV cameras watching the area, however, due to the recent storms she had taken the camera down so that it would not get damaged and the thief was not caught on film.
Despite the cameras she has still had thieves play tricks so that it would appear that they had paid.
“I’ve gone up and put boxes up there and when I come to count the money it doesn’t add up. There will be a load of pennies or 5ps instead of putting the one pound I charger per box,” she added.
She is now warning other residents that sell eggs from their homes to ensure that they have the right security in place.
“When I first installed the CCTV I didn’t have it positioned properly and someone did steal from us but it wasn’t captured fully on film so the police weren’t able to do anything. If you are installing cameras you need to make sure you have a clear view of them picking it up and it carrying it off and it has to show their face,” she said.
Loraine has since reinstalled the camera and has said that despite the thefts she does have some reliable people that buy her eggs.
“I’ve got some super customers that buy quite a few and a super lot of neighbours. I really don’t want to have to give up my hens because of this,” she added.
Bill Pascoe, press officer for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “We haven’t got a spate of these thefts at the moment but if a member of the public wants to take reasonable caution they should install cameras and report anything to the non-emergency 101 number.”