An Egg Thief Has Plagued Missouri Amish Farmers For Years

Eggs are disappearing in a major way in one Missouri Amish community. From a letter-to-the-editor in the Webster County Citizen:

There is something the community needs to be aware of … someone is stealing eggs, chickens, along Highway C and some of the side roads.

That may sound minor to most people, but when you make a living off your eggs as the Amish do, it’s important, they depend on them.

Also the rate at which they are stealing is huge.

One Amish farmer had more than 70 duck eggs a night stolen. Which if you are selling those at $5 or $6 per dozen, it adds up to $36 per week and $144 per month and $1,728 per year.

That’s just one farmer on Highway C; I know of at least four others that are missing eggs at the same rate, so five times 70 a night is 350 eggs a night or $180 per night, $1,260 per week, $5,040 per month and $60,480 per year.

But these are estimates, the total number is probably way higher because I have spoke with all the Amish only a small handful.

He adds that one of the Amish victims had dealt with the thievery for over two years.

Eggs are not the first thing you might think a thief would target. But as the writer notes the Amish are losing quite a bit here. And it actually makes sense that a rural thief might go after eggs. Their size-to-value ratio is fairly high, compared to, say, zucchini or potatoes. They are compact and easy to conceal. The main “minus”, from a thief’s perspective, is their fragility.

Amish stands and cottage industries are vulnerable to this sort of thing. The goods are often out in the open or easily accessible, and some stands rely on an honor system. You can see an example of that in this flower stand photo I took in Lancaster County:

amish money slot flower stand

So someone out there is taking advantage of the relatively unprotected nature of these agri-businesses. And has been for years now, by the sound of it.

On average Amish are less comfortable or apt to contact authorities directly, so violations end up coming to light due to non-Amish friends and acquaintances publicizing them (as in the recent case of Amish harassment in Maine). Still it puzzles me that it has gone on for so long. It makes me wonder what other measures, if any, the Amish fowl-owners have taken to try to stop the thief. I’ve heard of people leaving a note asking the thief to stop, or to come and ask for what they need, perhaps sparking a twinge of conscience in the offender. If these folks attempted that, it doesn’t appear to have worked.

Getting word out via letter-to-the-editor might be their way of indirectly escalating things; or simply a concerned neighbor has decided to make things more public. The culprit is described as having a “camouflage jacket, wearing jeans and muck boots with a flashlight” and operating in the vicinity of Morningside and Windmill Roads How much longer will this chronic pilferer’s egg heists continue?

Duck eggs image: Sharyn Morrow

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    9 Comments

    1. Cary Fassler

      Sounds like it’s time for a few well-placed trail cams—

      1. Some years ago there was a story of an Amishman in I believe Lancaster County doing that to catch a thief stealing things from his shop. But this MO group is probably way too plain for cameras. Though their English friends could certainly try that.

    2. Judy Pasqualone

      Awful thieves!

      This is horrible…how can anyone do this to these people and sleep nights? Darned if I wouldn’t sit up all night and catch em…Amish people often have cells now…take their pictures and post all over town or leave a watch dog out there with a sign…is someone is buying please ring this bell and owner will be right out. I don’t know…maybe none of this would but I’d sure try something! Awful

      1. Egg thief

        Please, don’t advocate for leaving dogs outside at night! It’s winter, it’s cold, and it’s cruel. Maybe they could rig some kind of alarm, take turns staying up late and watching for the person, but, please leave the dog indoors.

    3. Rozy

      Time to Stop the Thief

      I think I’d be standing guard with a shotgun loaded with rock salt and give the thief a load in the backside. Stealing someone’s livelihood is a criminal offense and needs to be prosecuted. Catching the thief is the first step. I know the Amish are pacifists so perhaps an English friend could do the dirty work.

    4. Walter Boomsma

      Secondary Issue

      There’s a secondary issue here. The fancy term is “bio-security.” Any visitor to a farm brings the risk of transmitting disease, particularly if the visitor has been to more than one farm in a short period of time. There are certain protocols that should be put in place–including limiting unnecessary visitors. Those protocols are not particularly onerous. I wonder if these farmers might be more open to that approach which would include securing the buildings where the hens and ducks are housed.

      1. Pat Monti

        Secondary Issue

        Walter, most of the Amish in our area (central, IL) aren’t even concerned about Covid and do not follow guidelines. Those few that are concerned believe that their faith will protect them. They don’t seem to understand that God did give us free will. I basically do believe that everyone’s free to have their own beliefs. However, I am challenged when those beliefs and practices negatively impact myself, others and them as well.

    5. Lisa Yetman

      Unjust

      The Amish are happy to share what they have with us English folk and thank God for that! The fact that someone would violate this trust is unjust and terribly wrong and hurtful! If honesty is the best policy, then I join in asking this “eggs”traodinarily unthinking individual or individuals to come clean and wipe the yolk of shame off their faces! If you need help, ask!