German farms often have stands outside where passersby can take produce and put money in an honesty box. But a potato fan in Lower Saxony has been taking large numbers of spuds during each visit and paying next to nothing for decades.
Fed up with losing potatoes, but not wanting to relinquish the honesty stand, farmer Friedrich Landsberg set up three cameras there 15 years ago. “You simply can’t rely on the honesty of humanity,” he said.
Indeed, It was not until this week that he had enough evidence to report the culprit to the police. The 59-year-old normally wore sunglasses so large that identifying him had proved difficult. His car always remained out of sight, meaning that he could not be traced via its licence plate.
On Monday the cameras caught the potato thief squirrelling 19 kilos of spuds into his bag, and putting just 15 cents in the honesty box. A few days before this he was filmed taking 12.5 kilos – a haul that would have cost him around €10 in a shop.
Finally, the shots were clear enough to identify the mysterious bandit. Police in the Elze area of the state knocked on his door and he confessed to having taken the spuds. In fact, Friedrich had crossed paths with the culprit before, when he caught him stealing ten years ago. A criminal investigation has now been launched.