RIVERTON, Utah – Families in search of the perfect pumpkin make an annual stop at the Petersen Family Farm in Riverton.
“The farm has been in the family for about four generations,” said Hilarie Petersen, co-owner of Petersen Family Farm.
Thieves are putting a damper on the fall tradition this season. In recent weeks, farm owners have received disturbing reports from neighbors that people are coming into their patch, located at 11800 S. 4000 West, and stealing their pumpkin merchandise.
“They (neighbors) see anything from teenagers taking pumpkins and throwing them over the fence to each other, to people with wheel barrows taking pumpkins or even families out picking pumpkins out of the field,” said Luke Petersen, co-owner of Petersen Family Farm.
Witnesses say thieves are going to great lengths to get their loot. Even more disturbing, adults are bringing their kids along to help carry out the crime.
A neighbor told owners they saw a father with his kids hurrying them along with the pumpkins.
“It's just really unfortunate that you have parents teaching their kids it's OK to steal,” Hilarie Petersen said.
Every year, pumpkins are stolen, but this season, the Petersen’s say it’s gotten worse.
“I think the more people see them, the more maybe they see that they're free. Every time you pass them, they get cheaper until they're free,” said Luke Petersen, co-owner of Petersen Family Farm.
Farmers rotated crops this year so some of the pumpkins are closer to the road making it easier for thieves to get away. Owners have lost about $1,000 worth in revenue.
“We don't have extra pumpkins. We grow what we need to sell and so when they're lost it hurts our farm,” Luke Petersen said.
Owners don’t want to pass on the costs to paying customers and have a warning for the thieves: “We're looking for you; we're going to find you!”