Thieves Take Advantage of Struthers Honey Honor System
Leave Behind $18 for about $800 in Honey
Last updated 8/1/2019 at 11:16am
UPDATE: The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department arrested a 52-year-old Tampa man Tuesday, July 31, on grand theft charges related to the honey heist July 14. Muhammad Abdallah Hmeid was released the next day on a $1,000 bond. He will face charges in Polk County.
Lotta Kay and Alden Struthers want to believe that people are basically honest. That's why they continue the long-standing tradition of letting visitors to Struthers Honey on SR 60 East of Lake Wales pay for their raw orange blossom honey on the honor system.
People can pop in day or night, cart out containers of honey and tuck their money into a slot in a large box. The prices are clearly marked, with large jars selling for $30 each. Unfortunately, three thieves took advantage recently, tucking a total of $18 dollars into the slot while carting out armloads of honey worth nearly $800. Fortunately, security cameras produced good video of two men and one woman believed to be the culprits. The visitors were videotaped July 6 and July 14 carting out multiple containers of honey, while depositing only a few dollars into the slot.
"If people will steal honey, what else will they do?" asked Lotta Kay, noting the cameras, installed just a few months ago, were in plain view, but that didn't seem to deter the brazen thieves.
At Struthers Honey jars and jugs of honey sit on shelves inside an unlocked room. Prices are clearly marked and patrons are encouraged to bring cash to match their purchases. A large flat wooden box sits in front of the honey display, spelling out to "put money in the slot" and that it's self-service with prices marked on the containers. The box also says "God bless you," and a sign above the shelves of honey says, "Smile. God loves you."
"It really hurts, not counting that they took our paycheck for that week," Lotta Kay Struthers said, noting as word got out many of their regular customers came by to purchase honey to help make up some of the difference.
Alden Struthers is a 4th generation beekeeper, now running the family business that was started in 1935. In addition to the raw orange blossom honey, Struthers offers bee pollen and honey flavored candies. The Struthers give back to the community in many ways and pass out cold water and even honey to those in need. "If you want a jar of honey, if you're hungry, we give it to you," Lotta Kay said. She wants the culprits caught, but she's not overly concerned about the loss because "I know God's going to take care of us."
Crimestoppers and the Polk County Sheriff's Office are distributing the video, along with still shots pulled from it, and asking people to help identify the trio so they can be contacted about the thefts. Sheriff Grady Judd put out a special appeal and the honey heists attracted media attention from all over, increasing the likelihood someone will recognize and report them.
The video can be viewed on the Heartland Crime Stoppers Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2341049705974933&id=231037513642840
If you recognize any or all of these people, please contact Detective Gaylord at 863-678-4115, or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward leading to an arrest, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers - call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), online atwww.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on "Submit A Tip," or download the free "P3tips" app on your smartphone or tablet.