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Polk Co. business relies on honor system even after thieves take $800 worth of honey

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 18:44:01-04

LAKE WALES, Fla. -- About $800 worth of raw honey has been swiped from the shelves in Lake Wales.

Struthers' Honey, a long-time Polk County staple, says they were stung a couple of times before putting cameras up to deter the thieves.

Still, three suspects came in on July 6 and 14 and proceeded to take hundreds of dollars worth of honey.

PHOTOS: Thieves steal nearly $800 worth of honey

One of the suspects, identified as Muhammad Abdallah Hmeid, has been arrested after he was recognized from surveillance video.

“I never really wanted to put cameras in because you want to trust the people but you gotta get a stop to it,” Alden Struthers says his family has been in the honey business for decades.

Struthers’ Honey began selling honey in 1935.

Since then, their business has been built upon sweat, hard work, trust and the honor system. When you enter Struthers’ Honey along State Road 60, you can choose your honey and simply deposit your cash or check into a drop box.

Leaving your name and amount you purchased is optional, but a notebook alongside the wall shows hundreds of people who have bought the raw honey and paid in full.

An old sign in the window says "God is not the only one watching."

“Gods watching everything you do,” Lotta Kay Struthers says she isn’t worried about catching the suspects, adding God will take care of that.

But according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office the video the Struthers’ provided is very good quality.

In the video, you can see three different people come in, take jugs of honey deposit a small amount of cash into the box.

Investigators say the cash did not add up to the nearly $800 of honey that was taken.

“It’s a shame we are living in a time now where people feel like they can come in and do that to your business,” Lotta Kay says. The $800 equals at least two of their employee’s paychecks, according to Kay.

She says the criminals bad behavior won’t break them from their business model.

The honor system will remain in place, after all Alden and Lotta Kay say that a majority of their customers are very trustworthy.

“Most of the people here are pretty honest, you’re buying honey,” Alden said.

If you recognize any of the three suspects in the video, you’re asked to call Polk County Sheriff’s Office (863) 678-4115 or Heartland Crime Stoppers (1-800) 226-8477.