- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

PORTALES, N.M. (AP) - Thieves have picked clean a pumpkin patch that had been cultivated by New Mexico preschoolers.

Eastern New Mexico University’s Child Development Center said the Portales school’s pumpkin patch was raided sometime over the weekend after students had worked for months growing the pumpkins.

School officials found the pumpkins missing and vines destroyed Monday morning.

Lara Vaughan, the school’s master teacher, said the four full pumpkins were just about to turn orange. She said the school’s 26 students had studied them, weeded the area and watered them since they were sprouts.

But the center’s director, Elaine Gard, said despite the heist the children aren’t mad at the pumpkin thieves. “They are more indignant in asking, ‘Why didn’t they just ask permission? We would have given them the pumpkins,’” Gard said.

Since word of the pumpkin theft has spread, Gard said 10 pumpkins have been donated to the school, some by motorists who heard the story on the radio and dropped them off while passing through. She said a Boy Scout troop has asked to help, and a local radio station is organizing a pumpkin drive.

University police are reviewing video footage of the school grounds, officials said.

No arrests have been made.

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