Man admits stealing honesty box from raw milk farmers in Manawatu

Leonard Sorenson admitted he stole an honesty box from a farm.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Leonard Sorenson admitted he stole an honesty box from a farm.

A man has admitted taking advantage of one of the most trusting Kiwi traditions – stealing from a farm-gate honesty box.

Leonard Sorenson told police he was finding living costs hard when he decided to steal the box from a raw-milk vendor, before going back the next day and trashing the vendor's machines.

The 41-year-old forestry worker pleaded guilty in the Palmerston North District Court on Tuesday to two charges of theft and wilful damage.

Arran Farm, in Manawatu, has vending machines for selling raw milk at the farm gate and is open to the public most days.

Sorenson and some associates went there on May 20 and took off with the honesty box, which had an unknown amount of cash in it.

They went back the next afternoon, and Sorenson's associates kept watch while he damaged the vending machines.

He took the money and they left in a car together, but their actions were caught on camera.

Arran Farm has vending machines for selling raw milk at the farm gate.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Arran Farm has vending machines for selling raw milk at the farm gate.

Sorenson told police he was finding living costs hard to deal with.

He initially went to the farm to steal milk, but decided to take the money instead.

Judge Jim Large said Sorenson's excuse did not wash, describing his offending as "quite serious".

"You are maybe finding things difficult, but I don't doubt the owner of the machines is trying to make a living as well, and they are finding it tough when people are breaking their machines."

The judge remanded Sorenson until July for sentencing, and to see if restorative justice could take place in the meantime.

"The victim may like the opportunity to address the defendant directly."

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