OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — Two men are facing charges after roughly 4,000 pounds of peaches were reported stolen last week from an orchard owned by Clemson University.
A deputy with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office responded on Aug. 22 to the Musser Fruit Research Farm, owned by Clemson University, for a report of stolen peaches. The deputy met with employees at the farm who alleged that someone broke in overnight and stole roughly $3,000 to $5,000 worth of peaches, or about 4,000 pounds of fruit.
In addition to the monetary value lost in the theft, employees told deputies that the theft also robbed researchers of a year’s worth of research because such a large theft would skew their data so significantly that it could not be used.
Donald Andrew New and Scottie Phil Randall Ledford have since been arrested in connection to the theft. Before the theft, deputies said the two men reportedly were living at a campground near the orchard. They are accused of cutting a lock off a gate to access the farm and steal the fruit.
They each face multiple counts of grand larceny and destroying farm products and research equipment.
The theft is still under investigation.