Apple theft brings charges

Last modified: 11/13/2015 11:13:33 AM
DEERFIELD — Remember the magical apple tree from “The Wizard of Oz” that slapped Dorothy’s hand when she tried to pick an apple?

It’s too bad Clarkdale Fruit Farm can’t import a couple of those trees to protect its picturesque roadside apple orchard from travelers who “pick their own” without paying.

But a woman who allegedly picked a whole bagful without paying may have to go to court and face possible larceny charges.

The suspect has been summoned to Greenfield District Court for a probable-cause hearing, although a date for that has not yet been set, according to Deerfield Police Officer Adam Sokoloski. He said her name will not be released until there is an arraignment.

“It was a young woman in a Mercedes, who obviously looked like she could afford to pay for apples,” said Ben Clark of Clarkdale.

Deerfield Police Officer William Kimball was on Stillwater Road last Friday when a passing motorist stopped to tell him someone was free-loading apples from Clarkdale’s trees on Upper Road. Kimball found the car and talked to the driver, who said she thought the apples were free for the taking.

When Kimball saw the bag of apples in the back seat, he called Clarkdale to find out how much they were worth. The Clarks said if the woman would just stop in to pay for the fruit, everyone would be happy.

The suspect told the officer she would go to the orchard store to pay. But when he checked back with the Clarks at the end of the day, Kimball was told she hadn’t paid. So Kimball filed a larceny complaint in district court.

When asked if apple theft from the orchard is common, Ben Clark said, “We suspect it happens regularly, but we only catch someone once or twice a year. We rely on our neighbors to look out for us. This is the first time in my memory that the police caught someone. (Kimball) got all their information and gave them the chance to come pay for them. He was being a nice guy.”

“We don’t want to get into filing charges,” Clark added. “We just want someone to pay for their food and be honest.”

Clark said the charge — larceny of produce — was a first for the Deerfield police officer.

“Most people know they’re not free for the picking,” said Sokoloski. “The apples have value and it’s the family income. We want to look out for all our residents, whether they’re bankers or farmers.”

“This is a great example of Officer Kimball being at the right place at the right time — being a community caretaker, and trying to have some community justice, in asking them to pay. But now, that they didn’t honor their word to go back and pay, unfortunately, we have to take court action.”

Clarkdale Fruit Farms happens to be having its Harvest Festival this Sunday.

“If someone really needs free apples, they should come Sunday to the Harvest Festival,” said Clark.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbroncaccio@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277


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