Getty Images/Christopher Furlong Farmer Robin Cropper checks the quality of his potatoes before harvest on October 13, 2010 in Ormskirk, England.

Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but police in Richmond are still trying to pinpoint who pinched a patch of prime potatoes.

Up to 5,000 pounds of potatoes have recently been stolen from a Richmond farmer’s plot of land near Steveston Highway and Gilbert Road, accounting for more than $5,000 in damages and lost revenue.

The crime has police and the city up in arms.

“What kind of low-life criminal picks on a farmer?” asked Richmond RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Cam Kowalski. “There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into farming and he’s got nothing to show for it.”

Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie also chimed in, calling the crop theft a “disturbing offence” that affects the local farming sector.

Kowalski says police have been unable to identify any suspects, but suspects an illegal commercial operation is afoot.

“There’s no way this is for personal use. It’s got to be for commercial resale,” he said. “Even if there were multiple suspects, this would have taken a lot of work, based on the size of the field.”

Investigators believe the theft occurred at night, but admit the theft may have occurred during the day when the field was unattended.

Witnesses would be hard pressed to realize people harvesting crops on a farm could be thieves, and not the owners, Kowalski said.

And given the number of summer farmers markets currently active in the Lower Mainland, it’s unlikely the crops will be found.

“It’s not like the potatoes have a serial number we can track,” Kowalski said.

RCMP are planning on increasing patrols around farm lands and plan to use newly acquired ATVs to keep an eye on hard to access trails near fields.

In the meantime, police are asking the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

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