Sticky Fingers: Neighbors Lend a Hand After Thief Steals Sap Buckets | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Sticky Fingers: Neighbors Lend a Hand After Thief Steals Sap Buckets 

click to enlarge Fred Hopkins - COURTESY OF MAUREEN LAKE
  • Courtesy Of Maureen Lake
  • Fred Hopkins

As Vermont's maple syrup producers opened their sugarhouses to the public last weekend, Fred's Shed stayed shut. The owner, Fred Hopkins, didn't have anything to boil.

The week before, a vandal had stolen 100 of Hopkins' sap buckets right from the taps along Maquam Shore Road in St. Albans. The bucketeer dumped the frozen sap on the ground, leaving Hopkins confounded but resolved. He installed security lights and cameras, but the surveillance apparatus captured only the police who came out a few days after the initial theft to investigate the disappearance of 40 more galvanized metal buckets. They're worth about $5 each.

Sugarmaking is Hopkins' hobby, not his livelihood. A decade ago, he built Fred's Shed, where he and his wife, Maureen, boil the sap and pencil each year's yield on the wall. One tree he taps produces sap with a 7.3 percent sugar content — nearly four times the average tree. "It's just like drinking sugar water," Hopkins said.

In 2018, Hopkins produced about 40 gallons of syrup. He said he gives away a lot of it to neighbors and friends. The rest he sells at the Onion River Cobbler in Winooski, which Hopkins took over after his brother, Steven, died.

A more entrepreneurial crook might have waited to steal the sweet stuff, Hopkins said. He valued the whole crop of high-quality syrup at "several thousand dollars."

The peculiar nature of the theft brought plenty of media attention over the past week. It also spurred an Enosburgh couple to lend — and help install — about 45 sap-catchers on Hopkins' maple trees.

Fred's Shed will reopen next sugaring season — as long as the new pails stay put.

Referring to the thief or thieves, Hopkins said, "I really don't think they will come back a third time."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Derek Brouwer

Derek Brouwer

Derek Brouwer is a news reporter at Seven Days, focusing on law enforcement and courts. He previously worked at the Missoula Independent, a Montana alt-weekly.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation