Jack Chase's dream of building a sugarhouse in Hubbardton came to a halt earlier this month. Thousands of dollars of brand new equipment disappeared and he said he didn't notice for days.
"These boxes were placed right back, nice and neatly. We didn't even know the items were missing," he said.
Chase called Bascom's Maple, a supplier in New Hampshire to see if he could buy replacements, and that's when his wheels started turning. "He says it's funny that you're missing a burner, a person had tried to sell him a 701 CRD Burner. These burners are sort of rare. It's not like a lot of them are kicking around," Chase said.
That person was 29-year-old Bryan Parker of Poultney. Parker was allegedly trading Chase's stolen goods for other sugaring equipment police say he wanted for his own sugarhouse. Bascom's showed Chase a receipt, which matched the serial numbers to his missing pieces.
Though Chase has since retrieved most of what was stolen, he wasn't done just yet. "He came to the wrong sugarhouse. Because basically I believe that he would have gotten away with all of it if he hadn't come here," Chase said.
Chase asked Bascom's if Parker tried to sell anything else recently -- the answer was yes. Store owners sent him photos of the equipment he had a hunch had been stolen too.
"Then I spent a lot of time speaking to sugarmakers and I asked them to get a list together for me to see what they were missing," Chase said.
Turns out Parker had stolen from three other sugarmakers in Poultney and Castleton dating back to October. The crimes had been reported to state police but had not yet been connected. State Police said at first they doubted they'd ever nab the serial sugar supply stealer -- that was, until they met Jack Chase.
"The reason we solved this case is because the sugar community is so tight knit and they all talk to each other and network. It wasn't because we got fingerprints off something or collected hair DNA," said Vermont State Police Trooper Steven Coote.
A sweet ending thanks to a seriously smart sugarmaker.
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