FRESH PRODUCE: James, Hayley and Doug Paddon offer fresh produce at their roadside stall.
FRESH PRODUCE: James, Hayley and Doug Paddon offer fresh produce at their roadside stall. Scott Powick

Sweet potatoes here to stay as police hunt for vandals

A SWEET potato farmer is promising to keep his roadside stall open despite thieves using the fresh produce to damage property along the Tweed Coast.

Tweed Byron Police District officers are looking for eye witnesses following a spate of crimes believed to involve teens throwing sweet potatoes at moving and parked cars in Kingscliff and Salt Village on Saturday night.

Two separate incidents of cars being damaged by the starchy vegetables, believed to have been stolen from a roadside produce cart, have been reported to police.

Others took to social media to complain about finding sweet potatoes on their driveway at the weekend.

Tweed Heads Police Chief Inspector Gary Cowan told the Gold Coast Bulletin the two incidents reported happened between 5.30pm and 8pm on Saturday, September 15.

"An unknown person has thrown sweet potatoes at vehicles,” Mr Cowan said.

"One had their deck and rear door damaged and the other one has a smashed rear windscreen.”

David Knudsen's rear windscreen was smashed by a sweet potato while he visited his parents' home in Kingscliff on Saturday.
David Knudsen's rear windscreen was smashed by a sweet potato while he visited his parents' home in Kingscliff on Saturday. Contribued

While it is unknown where the starchy vegetables originated from, Cudgen sweet potato farmer James Paddon, who's family is battling to stop the $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital being built on State-Significant Farmland at Cudgen, said he regularly had to deal with vandals making a mess of his farm's popular roadside stall, Doug's Cow, on Tweed Coast Road.

"People know there's sweet potatoes there always but there's been the odd time where they've left them lying around the place,” Mr Paddon said.

"We like to keep the cart out there as much as we can as we have an honesty box.

"This is only the first incident we've heard about, at least not at this level.

"We won't be doing anything drastic unless it keeps going. The supply is safe at this stage.”

Mr Paddon told the Tweed Daily News he didn't believe the vandalism had anything to do with the vitriolic debate over the new Tweed Valley Hospital, which has divided the community.

"I'd say no-one is thinking about getting to that level yet, nothing as serious,” he said.

"We're just hoping it's a couple of random people. They usually get bored with this type of behaviour. They think it's funny and then they get bored. I think that it'll all just settle down.”

Police urge anyone in the area with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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