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Two SC locals steal 4,000 pounds of Clemson peaches

Four thousand pounds of peaches were stolen by two South Carolina locals.
Four thousand pounds of peaches were stolen by two South Carolina locals.

Clemson University’s fruit research facility lost 4,000 pounds of peaches to an act of grand larceny this past August.

On Aug. 22, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call regarding the theft of peaches at a Clemson research farm. Luke Dallman, the assistant farm manager, said that someone had stolen “approximately 4,000 pounds of peaches, market value of $3,000 to $5,000,” according to an incident report obtained by The Tiger.

Upon discovering so many peaches were missing, the farm began calling vendors they typically sell to. They discovered that a stand in Powdersville was provided a sampling of “Big Red” peaches. The man who had ventured to the stand with the peaches said he’d have a “truckload of peaches the following week” if they were interested in purchasing them. This stand in Powdersville recognized the peaches from the Clemson orchard and knew that no one else in South Carolina had peaches to sell at this time. “The stand refused to buy the truckload,” according to the incident report.

The peaches were meticulously monitored. Dallman said the records detailed “highly specific information about the fruits.” Because of the extent to which these records were detailed, Dallman and his team “know very precisely how much fruit should’ve been there,” according to the incident report.

Officers say that two Piedmont, South Carolina locals Donald New, 38, and Scottie Ledford, 23, were staying at the Oconee Point Campground that borders the peach orchard. They were formally charged with grand larceny, trespassing and agriculture/damage or destruction of farm product, research facility or equipment, according to the report.

Not only is the farm facing at least a $3,000 monetary loss, but now the “researchers have lost an entire year’s worth of research because of the theft now skewing their data so significantly that the data can no longer be used in the research,” the incident report details.

Musser Fruit Research Farm is a 240-acre research hub for a variety of fruits located just south of The Pier. Owned by Clemson University, the center collaborates with faculty from neighboring states to “effectively leverage resources to benefit regional fruit production,” with a particular focus on one of South Carolina’s signature crops, peaches, according to the center’s website.

The “Big Red” peaches are a breed of peaches that are easily identifiable and known to be grown at Clemson’s research facility amongst the South Carolina peach farming community. Sargent Sayre, the responding officer, regarded the peaches as “very obvious(ly) not the standard size.” These peaches were “very large, appearing to be approximately the size of a softball.”

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Kailyn Kelly
Kailyn Kelly, Senior Reporter
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