Sweet-toothed thief targets cordial stall

Stumped . . . Manuka Gorge resident Jo Heslop restocks her roadside stall with fresh bottles of her special elderberry cordial after 11 bottles, the shelf and the cash box were stolen over the weekend. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

Manuka Gorge resident Jo Heslop is on the look out for a sweet-toothed bandit.
But she confesses to being more than a little confused about a recent theft on her property.
“Why did they have to take all the elderberry cordial, the shelf and the money box, too?”
Sometime during the night of Saturday, January 23, a light-fingered visitor stopped at Mrs Heslop’s popular roadside stall near the end of the Manuka Gorge, near Lawrence, and removed all 11 bottles of her prized elderberry cordial, the shelf they were sitting on and the cash box.
“It must have been a bit of a struggle as the stall is an A-frame structure, so they would’ve had to wiggle it around a bit just to get the shelf out and then somehow fit it all in their car,” she said.
“They were, however, very considerate, because they carefully moved a bottle of hand sanitiser and stack of business cards to a lower shelf so that they wouldn’t knock them over.”
She discovered the theft early on Sunday morning.
“I usually leave a few bottles out overnight because several of my regular customers work late or are truck drivers, and they like to stop in occasionally and buy a couple of bottles as they drive past late at night.
“I still don’t know why the thieves took the cash box though, because if they had just shaken it they would have discovered there was no money in it.”
Mrs Heslop started selling elderberry cordial from her stall 11 years ago.
“I pick the elderberry flowers in large bunches around the farm between the end of October and beginning of December. The flowers look a lot like hawthorn and that confuses most people.”
She then uses a secret process to produce, on average, 1100 bottles each year, which she sells, and gives to family and friends.
“Elderberry cordial is a sweet and refreshing drink that works well with soda water, or as a splash in your gin or wine.
“Some like its sharp taste, others don’t. It’s very subjective.”
Before the recent theft, Mrs Heslop said a prominent Canadian flag had been stolen a couple of times.
“Canadian friends of ours originally gave us the flag to fly beside the stall so that people would notice it as they drove by.”
She was saddened but undaunted by the latest larceny.
“It’s pretty disgraceful to take something and not pay for it.
“If they wanted the drink so badly all they had to do was come up to the house and I would have given them some, anyway.’’