LAKE WALES, Fla. — The Lake Wales community has come together to help support a local family-owned business victimized by theft.
- Thefts occurred on July 6, July 14
- Surveillance video recorded thefts
- More Polk County stories
One by one, a steady flow of people stopped by Struthers’ Honey in Lake Wales on Wednesday to donate.
“Today is my birthday so I’m giving you guys money for what was taken,” said Kristina Brooks of Indian Lake Estates.
Frostproof resident Mandi Kikta is also trying to help. She challenged all her connections on Facebook to donate $10 to help the Struthers family recoup their losses.
“That’s the good Christian community we’re in,” said Alden Struthers, the owner.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said nearly $800 worth of honey was stolen from the family-owned business in July.
Investigators said surveillance video shows a man and woman put $13 in the honor system box on July 6 and took $373 worth of honey. On July 14, Sheriff Judd said a man took $420 worth of honey and left $5 behind.
Screenshot taken from surveillance video showing the faces of individuals who are believed to have stolen $800 worth of honey from a Lake Wales family-owned business over two days in July. (Courtesy of Polk County Sheriff's Office)
“What are you going to do with that much honey? You got a bear in the backyard?” asked Judd. “They have sticky fingers and they’re crooks and they need to go to jail.”
Alden Struthers said it was hurtful to see the video showing the three people stealing from them. The business has been family-owned and operated on State Highway 60 since 1935.
“I was disappointed and upset," he explained. "We got so many customers that come in here and do the right thing, and to see someone take that much advantage of you, it ruffles your feathers."
Now the Struthers family said they are hoping that whoever stole their honey will pay for their bad behavior.
“I think they should be held accountable," said Alden's son Anthony, who is also the business's production manager. "I mean, obviously we’re not going to get the honey back, but if nothing else make an example out of them to let them know they can’t come in here and steal."
Judd told us he knows what his deputies are going to do as soon as the public identifies the three suspects.
“We’re going to fly them to the county jail like honeybees to a comb,” Judd said.