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Brazen thieves target flood victims five times in a week

Kaye Milfull with her Mary Valley pineapple stall on Dagun Pocket Rd.
Kaye Milfull with her Mary Valley pineapple stall on Dagun Pocket Rd. Craig Warhurst

THEY breed them tough in the country but there is only so much a bloke can take.

Chris Doyle, the last pineapple farmer still standing in the Mary Valley - the same farmer who watched 50,000 of his pineapples rot during the Australia Day weekend flood - has been hit by thieves five times in the past week; twice in 12 hours.

The thieves, or thief, used a battery-operated angle grinder to cut the padlock on the iron honesty box Mr Doyle and his partner Kaye Milfull leave on their timber stall on the side of Dagun Pocket Rd, where they sell Mr Doyle's pineapples for 50 cents or $1 each.

It's not big business.

Mr Doyle has been a farmer for 40 years and has run his humble stall for the past 15 years but he's decided it is no longer worth it.

"It's just a $1 donation," he said yesterday. "We only have 25 pineapples in there at any one time. We used to put 50 in there."

Before Mr Doyle became the repeated target of the brazen thief, the traditional country system, which relies on the honesty of the buyer, had worked well.

At this time of year - when the Muster is on - the honesty box has been known to make $100 a day. It once made $300 in a day.

But it seems those days of relying on country decency and honesty are over.

"I think we are just going to shut it down," Mr Doyle said. "I can't see much point in going ahead with it."

But Ms Milfull had other ideas.

"I am not going to let them beat me," she said.

She now walks out to the box three times a day, emptying the honesty box at midday and again at 4.30pm. Then at 6pm, she goes out and brings in all the unsold pineapples.

"It's very time consuming. I just don't understand why they do it. There is never a lot of money there. Maybe $10 or $20," she said.

The low act is the antithesis of the inspiring human spirit shown by Mr Doyle, after a raging Amamoor Creek ripped through his property in January.

His indomitable spirit in the face of, and following, the devastation earned him the inaugural Resilience Award at this year's Ekka. Despite losing his crop, Mr Doyle was determined to take his best pineapples to the show and featured in the ribbons.

Anyone who has seen suspicious behaviour near the stall on Dagun Pocket Rd is asked to phone Gympie police on 5480 1000 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

Gympie Times

Topics:  flood victims, honesty boxes, theft




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