$800 worth of garlic stolen in 'heist'

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 09:45 28/01/2014
garlic
KRIS DANDO/FAIRFAX NZ

GARLIC HEIST: Pita Rene with all that’s left of $800 worth of garlic stolen from Te Rito’s garlic patch recently.

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Wiremu Grace jokes that it was the "great garlic heist", but there is also frustration on his part at the brazen theft from Te Rito Gardens.

On the afternoon of January 6, the organic vegetable-growing organisation had $800 worth of garlic stolen from a plot in the old Porirua Hospital grounds.

The theft has been reported to police, and the fact that a red ute was seen in the vicinity at the time of the theft.

It comes after two major break-ins in 2013 at Te Rito's Hassell Rd building. A sliding door and windows were smashed and a koha jar stolen during the earlier break-ins.

The fact the garlic was hours away from being collected, to be sold at Te Rito's Friday night market, disappointed and disheartened Mr Grace.

It was a planned theft, with the garlic cut at the top, rather than taken from the ground.

"I'm gutted," Mr Grace said.

"There was a lot of hard work by mostly volunteers - we're a non-profit organisation that's trying to grow good food for the community and it's important people know that.

"You could call it the great garlic heist, but I'm wondering why someone needs that much and what they're going to do with it.

"I can't see the people taking it using the garlic to benefit others like we would."

More garlic seeds will have to be brought in now because the stolen stock would have yielded seeds for the next planting crop in May.

"At the end of the day, $800 is a lot to us, but it's more than that. It's the love and attention that went in for six months that you can't replace.

Te Rito co-ordinator Steve Wilson said the theft left him deflated and was a big blow to their income.

Te Rito Gardens is a learning environment for horticulture students - some of whom have disabilities - and a business.

Mr Grace said Te Rito would be beefing up security and wanted the public to be more vigilant in keeping an eye on community gardens.

Anyone with information about the theft should contact Porirua Police.

To donate seeds or help Te Rito Organics, contact Steve Wilson on 022 034 1171 or asert.trust@xtra.co.nz.

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