Floating doughnuts mystery in Collingswood solved

Posted: September 09, 2011

The mystery of the floating doughnuts has been solved.

Over the last two years, thousands of doughnuts, bagels, and other baked goods have turned up in Newton Lake Park in Collingswood, strewed across the fishing dock and floating in the water.

No discernible origin, no suspects - until Thursday.

Around 6:15 a.m., park police caught an employee from a nearby Dunkin' Donuts store with three trash bags full of old doughnuts - as well as hair nets and other trash.

The man, Santosh Dey of Oaklyn, told police he wanted to feed the geese that make the park their home.

His boss, Chetna Doshi, who owns the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 130 in Collingswood, sounded shocked when told what her employee was up to.

"Why would he do that when we have a big Dumpster right in back?" she said.

The discarded doughnuts had become a big issue in the neighborhoods that surround Newton Lake, prompting a series of articles in the local weekly, the Collingswood Retrospect.

"It's been in the paper I don't know how many times," said Bob Gauld, who lives across the street from the park. "There's a homeless guy who lives down that end of the lake. Some people thought it might be him."

One resident decided to take matters into his own hands. He talked with local fishermen and found out that a man showed up at the park early mornings with trash bags.

The resident e-mailed the information to the Camden County freeholders last week, complaining, "I have personally cleaned up 20 to 30 pounds at a time with equal amount floating in the water."

The park police set up surveillance, and on Thursday got their man.

Dey was charged with dumping food and feeding wildlife, and could face a fine of up to $150 when he appears in Municipal Court. He could not be reached for comment.

Gauld conceded he had second thoughts.

"They say those doughnuts are really bad for the geese," he said. "Maybe he was doing us a favor. I hate those geese."

Contact staff writer James Osborne at 856-779-3876 or jaosborne@phillynews.com.

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