Hazel Southam - Journalist

The egg rustler

It all started last summer. I’d go to collect the eggs from my hens, who live in considerable comfort at the end of the garden, and find nothing. Not a thing.
At first I thought they’d simply decided to have a bit of a holiday from laying. But in my heart, after years of keeping hens, I knew this wasn’t the case. Someone was stealing the eggs.
It went on for weeks. I warned my neighbours that a thief was probably coming in via their gardens. They kept a look-out. But we all go to work, and the thief clearly doesn’t.
I left the thief a note telling them that if they continued I’d inform the police. They carried on regardless.
So I put up new fence panels at the sides of the garden and it stopped. Well, more accurately, a fox killed all my chickens and so there was nothing to steal.
In the autumn I got four more chickens. Everything was fine. Then, just before Christmas, I had the trees at the end of my garden pollarded to give my next door neighbour more light. And incidentally, the thief easier access to the eggs.
Just after Christmas it started again. No eggs. But very obvious signs that the thief had been there.
The red mist descended. I walked round to the houses that back onto my garden, in the pouring rain. I envisaged myself having a quiet word about how someone was using their garden as a means of entering mine. Clearly I wasn’t going to accuse them outright, just give them a sense that I knew what was going on. I rehearsed it. No-one was home. I went back. No-one was home. But a man walking three Staffordshire Bull Terriers gave me a very sideways glance that said, ‘You’re not from round here, are you?’
I rang the police, who, to their enormous credit, didn’t laugh, but said, ‘A theft’s a theft.’
It kept happening. Friends have suggested all manner of responses: razor wire, man traps, booby trap paint sprays, CCTV.
My revenge will be more subtle. I can’t spell it out here, in case the thief gets wind of it, but he (or she) will not win this one.
Of course, this means huge additional expense. I may as well be buying my eggs from the Queen – should she be selling any. But I’m undeterred. These are my eggs and whatever it takes, I’m keeping them.


About Hazel

Hazel Southam is an award-winning journalist who reports on religious affairs, international development and the environment. She has covered four G8 Summits.

She wrote for The Sunday and Daily Telegraph for 10 years. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.

Reporting assignments have taken her to places including Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Albania, Nagorno-Karabakh, Senegal and the Arctic Circle.

In the UK, she has also delivered media training to the MOD and leading businesses.

Contact Hazel