A 6-year-old girl from Northern Vermont learned a tough lesson about crime this week, the hard way. Her parents said thieves targeted the cash box at the family's honor system farm stand, where the child helps sell fresh eggs she collects from her chickens.
"I feel frustrated when we're up here and they're down there stealing everything," kindergartner Mia Bourdeau said Thursday, holding a basket of eggs she collected from her family’s chicken coop.
Mia and her older sister, Finlan, help their parents, Brad and Andrea Bourdeau, sell eggs, produce, firewood, lip balm, and maple syrup at a roadside stand in a quiet part of Hyde Park, Vermont. Mia said her favorite job to help with is collecting eggs from the chickens at the family’s Livin' on the Ledge Farm.
But the sweet life of a farm kid soured this week, when, on two different nights, a camera recorded several people who appear to be pocketing Mia's egg money.
"It makes me mad," the 6-year-old said, in response to an necn question about her reaction to the situation.
Mia's parents said they heard other Vermont farmers were having trouble with the old honor system, where customers make their own change from a farm stand's money box, so the Bourdeaus wanted protection.
The Bourdeaus installed a simple surveillance system last year, which recorded apparent thefts on Mother's Day and again Tuesday. Several people can be seen on-camera, and it sure looks like they are stealing $10 or so each time, Andrea Bourdeau said. In one case she said, a man also takes a quart of this year's crop of maple syrup.
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The family posted the video on Facebook and handed it over to the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department. The video was shared so many times, it helped give investigators solid leads, Andrea Bourdeau said, recounting a conversation she told necn she had with a sheriff’s deputy.
"There's not a lot of profit in this anyway, so any little bit is a pretty big hit," said Brad Bourdeau, describing how the money comes second to the principle of the crime of targeting an honor system cash box.
"We're the type of people-- if you're hungry, if you want some tomatoes, if you want some cucumbers, you need gas money to get somewhere-- come see us. Don't take it," Andrea Bourdeau added. "That's a pretty low thing to do."
Last year, when a different thief was caught red-handed on camera, the family told necn she didn't like the social media shaming that resulted, so she came back and returned the money.
With this latest round of thefts, the Bourdeaus praised sheriff's deputies from the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department for their assistance.
Investigators have told the family that thanks to the video, they have been able to identify persons of interest in the case. No information on names of suspects was available, however, because the investigation is still ongoing.
Mia had a strong message for anyone considering trying to knock over the farm stand again. "Never steal from us," she said.