MEAN spirited thieves have dealt a blow to a Gwent boy’s attempts to earn some pocket money - by stealing around 140 kilograms of potatoes.

John Phillips, 12 - with occasional help from his 10-year-old brother Jack - has been selling potatoes from a stall outside the family home in Goytre for around two years, on an ‘honesty box’ basis.

But when dad Kevin Phillips woke up on Tuesday morning, he found that several 20kg bags had been stolen during the previous night.

“People normally come and pick a bag, and knock on the door with the money, or put it through the letterbox,” said the boys’ father Kevin Phillips.

“The bags are kept in a little shed at the gate, and people are usually very good, we’ve not had any problems before.

“John buys them off a local grower and they sell for £5 a bag. He makes £1 a bag and can make £20-30 a week, but because of this, he’s going to have to sell more than 30 bags to make back the money on the ones that have been stolen.

“It’s a way to make a bit of extra pocket money and he normally saves it for his holidays. A lot of people in the village come to us for their potatoes.”

John, a pupil at King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny, and Jack, who attends Goytre Fawr primary school, were upset when they were told of the theft.

“It’s just a really mean thing to do.

“They’ve sold different types of potatoes during different times of the year, and it’s been a good way to encourage them to learn how to make a bit of money, but this is hard on them,” said Mr Phillips.

The theft occurred between 10pm on Tuesday September 30 and 5.30am the following morning, when Mr Phillips got up for work.

“There were seven or eight bags taken and the one that was left open to show off the potatoes was scattered over the road,” he said.

Mr Phillips said he hopes that whoever stole the potatoes is ashamed of what they have done, and he hopes too that the theft will not put John off selling them in the future.

Gwent Police have been informed of the theft. Anyone who can help is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or call 101, quoting log number 53 01/10/13.