Maple equipment theft on the rise - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Maple equipment theft on the rise

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WILLISTON, Vt. -

Burr Morse has been making maple syrup on his farm in Montpelier all his life."We tap about 3,000 trees," Morse said. He said this season is off to an excellent start.  

But in Williston it's a different story for Denny Lewis. Instead of boiling Monday, the Lewis was installing locks on his sugar house.  Thieves recently made off with thousands of dollars of his sugaring equipment. "This is where we had the vacuum pump -- it's up ten feet in the air and it was probably a couple hundred pounds and I don't think one person could have taken it out. I think it had to be at least a two person job," he said.

A filter press was also stolen, along with several other pieces of equipment. This is just the latest sugar house to be hit by thieves.

Matt Gordon, Executive Director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, said his organization does not keep track of maple thefts, but that could change.
"This might be something, if it is happening more often, we do want to know and be able to let our members know to be more vigilant if there is a lot going on in their area," Gordon said.

Missing equipment is nothing new for sugar makers. What is new is what is being taken. "We used to lose sap buckets when we had sap buckets on trees by the roadside -- this was 30 years ago. I guess that was the beginning of it, but now it seems like it has jumped up a notch or two with expensive equipment, vacuum pumps and the like," Burr Morse said.  "It's really sad,"  he added.

Lewis has had to spend thousands of dollars to replace the stolen equipment in order to save this sugaring season and that expense is going to eat into this year's maple profits.
Lewis figures it will take him two years of sugaring to make up for the loss. "You can't stop, you can't let it stop you. You have to just keep rolling. It was certainly a let down, but you pick yourself up and keep on going," he said.

And other sugar makers are now keeping a closer eye on their property. "I live within 300 feet I get up frequently during the night at my age and I look down here at the sugar house so the sugar house doesn't stand alone... hardly at all here without eyes on it," Morse said.
 
Williston police are continuing to look for suspects. A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of Lewis' equipment.

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