08/30/2012 06:08 EDT | Updated 10/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Stolen potatoes trouble Richmond farmers

RCMP officers in Richmond, B.C., say they plan to step up patrols around local farms following complaints from farmers that someone is stealing potatoes from their fields.

Farmer Bill Zylmans says in the past month, thieves have dug up several patches on his fields covering a total area larger than a football field and stolen an estimated 2,300 kilograms of spuds worth about $5,000.

Police say other farmers in the area have also reported potato thefts and warn that the hot potatoes may be sprayed with chemicals that could be harmful if ingested.

The stolen spuds include Yukon golds and reds, but police admit there is no way to positively identify a stolen potato.

"It's not like they're flagged in any sort of way that we could differentiate between potatoes," said Sgt. Cam Kowalski.

Zylmans says crop thefts are an ongoing problem, with many people helping themselves to local berry crops, and the occasional pumpkin come Halloween.

"This is my livelihood. You know you have a large investment in equipment and chemicals and fertilizers and operation to produce a crop that you're proud of and your return after all the bills are paid is how well of a job I've done to produce this crop. And that's my paycheque," he said