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A Canadian Province Is Offering $500,000 To Catch A Potato Tamperer

Charlottetown's Most Wanted.

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Ah, Prince Edward Island. Home to Anne of Green Gables, beaches, and bountiful red potato fields. This small island province powers a $1 billion spud industry — and a dastardly tamperer is threatening it.

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The crisis began in October when sewing needles were discovered in potatoes. The tampered tubers were traced to Linkletter Farms. Additional needles were discovered in bags of Linkletter potatoes at supermarkets.

"The potatoes were destined for human consumption and the local industry remains concerned about the effect cowardly acts such as this have on the confidence of consumers in the food supply," the Prince Edward Island Potato Board said in a statement.

The Board offered a reward of $50,000 for information "leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible."

By the end of the year, more needled potatoes had surfaced. They were not connected to Linkletter Farms, but were discovered at the same processor, Cavendish Farms.

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The National Post interviewed locals and discovered a range of theories about who was puncturing potatoes: "the culprit was a disgruntled former employee; a crazy person; teenagers up to no good; or a wild-eyed environmentalist."

Meanwhile, the Potato Board increased its reward from $50,000 to $100,000.

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Now, months later, no arrests have been made. So the Potato Board has raised the reward to an eye-popping $500,000 for tips between now and August 15.

Please RT: Reward increased to $500,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction until August 15th!

To put that into perspective, Canada's most notorious bank robber, the Vaulter Bandit, is the focus of a reward offered by the Canadian Bankers Association since 2010. It started at $10,000 and was increased to $100,000 this summer.

Also, the standard reward from Crimestoppers is $2,000 to "to anyone providing information which leads to an arrest for a crime."

Most of the criminals listed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list come with a $100,000 reward. The U.S. Rewards For Justice program aimed at capturing terrorists regularly offers rewards in the millions of dollars.

So, to recap, in Canada a potato tamperer is considered more valuable than a bank robber or an FBI Most Wanted criminal, but less than an international terrorist.

Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.

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