Meat thief preys while family prays

January 27, 1998

Meat thief preys while family prays


Staff Writer

CEARFOSS - Mike Eby returned home from church on Sunday to find his house had been broken into and his freezer cleaned out.

The theft came exactly two weeks after a similar misfortune befell his cousin, who lives a couple of miles away.

"That is really weird," Eby said Monday.

Eby lost 75 to 100 packages of hamburger and other meat that he recently had butchered, according to Maryland State Police.

It was not the first time he has had trouble with thieves. He said various pieces of equipment have been stolen from his Greencastle Pike home. But he said he has no idea who is responsible.


"We had a lot of trouble with our tools being stolen," he said. "But we have no idea."

Harold Eby, who lives on a farm a short distance up the road and runs a shoe repair business, said he also has had farm equipment stolen. He said two lawn mowers and a tiller have been taken since last October. In those cases, thieves walked into an unlocked shed, he said.

The theft two weeks ago bears an eerie resemblance to Sunday's incident. He said he went to church with his family that Sunday morning and returned to find a year's supply of meat gone. The meat was mostly from a steer he had butchered in October, he said.

The stolen items included 50 pounds of ground beef, 30 pounds of chicken, 25 pounds of sausage, 8 pounds of sandwich steaks, 12 pounds of scrapple, 12 pounds of pudding meat, 10 dozen eggs and seven loaves of bread, according to police.

Police estimated the value at $288.

"Obviously, someone knows what's going on, knows their routine," said Maryland State Police Sgt. Donald Stottlemyer.

Trooper 1st Class C.J. Barnard, who investigated Mike Eby's theft, said the thefts probably are linked and the culprit is probably not a stranger.

"It's either someone they know or a family member," he said.

Harold Eby rejected the notion that the thief could be close to him.

"I'm not sure. I feel certain that it's none of my friends or family, though," he said. "I get the feeling it's someone who knows we go to church on Sunday."

Barnard said he suspended investigation of the case until new information becomes available. None of Eby's neighbors saw anything, he said.

Barnard said he urged nearby residents to look out for one another.

"I talked to them about getting together, because they might be next," he said. "Keep an eye on anyone there who might be going in and out of there."

Harold Eby said his property is somewhat isolated and could be vulnerable. But he said he has taken steps to prevent future crimes by locking doors.

They are precautions he said were not necessary years ago. Eby said he believes a ring of tool thieves has targeted him and fellow Mennonites. But he cautioned that all farmers are threatened.

"It don't stop with the Mennonites," he said.

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