Honey heist has happy ending for farmer
By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
Brad Rice is all smiles as he holds the box of stolen honey and maple syrup returned to him Wednesday afternoon by East Kingston Police Chief Reid Simpson.
EAST KINGSTON — Brad Rice got excited when he saw a blue Dodge Neon pull up to his little maple syrup and honey stand Wednesday morning.
The East Kingston hobby farmer — who makes his own honey and about 60 gallons of maple syrup each year — assumed he had a customer for his Willow Creek Sugarhouse stand. But in less than a minute, the “customer” had loaded up a $10 honeycomb and 23 jars of honey and syrup totaling $295.
“They sped off and I quickly ran back to the house and called 911,” said Rice, 39.
It was the biggest maple syrup and honey heist at Rice's stand at 137 Willow Road since he began selling his homemade goods two years ago using the honor system.
“Every once in a while, you have a pint of syrup get stolen. A pint here and a pint there I can deal with,” Rice said.
He was able to give a good description of the Neon to police, who quickly put out a bulletin. Ten minutes later, Newton Police Chief Larry Streeter stopped the car in his town. That's when he found Eric Warcewicz sitting inside with a passenger — and all the stolen jars.
While police determined the passenger wasn't involved in the crime, Warcewicz, 35, of 33 Farm Lane in Seabrook, was arrested on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking.
Police said they believe Warcewicz also stole some change from a box at the Smith Farm on Sanborn Road Wednesday morning.
The wheels of justice turned quickly when Warcewicz admitted to the theft and was rushed off to Hampton District Court, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended for two years — as long as he behaves. He was also ordered to pay restitution and to stay away from Rice and his stand.
East Kingston Police Chief Reid Simpson said Warcewicz has a criminal record but would not elaborate.
Simpson arrived at Rice's stand late Wednesday afternoon to return the unopened bottles, but Rice doesn't plan to sell them.
“It's just going to be a loss," he said.
Meanwhile, Rice is still scratching his head over the theft.
“It's really awful that something like this has to happen,” he said. “I sort of have too much faith in people.”