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Community rallies behind Lake Wales honey farm after thefts caught on camera

Polk County

LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) – Community members aren’t letting thieves have the last word in Polk County.

Lotta Kay and Alden Struthers, the owners of Struthers’ Honey on State Road 60 near Lake Wales, have been amazed at the outpouring of support after three thieves stole $800 worth of honey from their store this month.

For decades, Struthers’ Honey has operated on the honor system.

Customers pick out the honey they want and then pay for it through a box with a slot in the center of the room.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is still looking for the three suspects who they say took large amounts of honey and left just a few dollars behind.

“We have gotten a few tips. Some of them haven’t panned out, we’re still following up on some other tips,” said Brian Bruchey, Public Information Officer for the sheriff’s office.

“What started out to be something really bad and mean now has become something that I think has been a blessing to us,” said Lotta Kay Struthers.

Struthers says she and her husband have been receiving letters every day. People are fed up with thieves, it seems.

“They’re just telling us how much they appreciate our business and want to help. That really makes you feel good,” she said.

They have also been donating, either by mail or by slipping a little extra in the slot when they pay for their honey or beeswax.

Struthers keeps the notes in a binder.

“Here’s $10 – for those less honest,” one note reads.

“I HATE A THIEF,” reads another one.

“My son is a local beekeeper and I know how hard he works,” wrote a mom. “I hope justice is found quickly.”

It has added up to hundreds of dollars.

“We always leave extra also so we’ll make it up for you guys,” Mordechai Adika, a customer who visited Monday, told Lotta Kay Struthers.

The donation campaign started on Facebook.

“For somebody to come in and steal from them like that was not cool,” said Mandi Kikta.

Kikta, who lives in Frost Proof, saw the outrage and turned it into a call for action.

“If everyone would just stop by and give $10, everybody that’s saying it’s bad that the people did that, then it would help recoup their money,” she said of the idea behind her post on Facebook.

“That thing has been amazing. That young lady was really a blessing doing that,” said Struthers.

Anyone who thinks they recognize the suspects is urged to contact Detective Gaylord at 863-678-4115. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward leading to an arrest, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers. You can call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), submit a tip online or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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