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Stacked up . . . The Waiareka Valley Lions Club fundraising stall near Oamaru, which sells manure and sawdust. It was recently targeted by thieves, who stole 40 to 50 bags of sheep manure. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Ask anyone involved with the Waiareka Valley Lions Club and they will tell you the recent theft of dozens of bags of manure from its fundraising stall just plain stinks.

Forty to 50 bags of manure were recently stolen from the charitable organisation’s fundraising stall at the intersection of Saleyards and Weston Rds near Oamaru.

The bags are sold for $5, alongside sawdust priced at $2.50 a bag.

A club member, who did not want to be named, said an attempt was also made to steal a cash box from the stall, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Between 100 and 200 bags of manure are sold each week on average, of which the club kept about half of the proceeds for North Otago and national projects, with the remainder going to the Oamaru schools and sports groups who helped bag the manure.

Compounding the theft issue was the fact the kind of manure used was not as readily available as in the past.

“The biggest trouble is there are fewer sheep shearing sheds around to replace it.”

He suspected such a large amount of compost may have been stolen to aid cannabis-growing operations, which was also alluded to by Squadron 26 (Oamaru) Air Training Corps commander Derek Beveridge last month.

On August 30, the Otago Daily Times reported a stall in Humber St was losing about 25 bags of compost a week to theft.

“I reckon they are growing their wacky baccy in it,” the club member said.

“That may be why they targeted the compost too.”

Senior Constable Dean Paterson, of Oamaru, said that was “pure speculation” and there was no evidence to suggest that was the case. However, he did confirm police had identified a vehicle and people of interest related to the thefts.