A Vermont couple was left in shock after what they can only assume to be a "disturbed individual" destroyed more than 300 gallons of maple syrup in a devastating sugar house break-in.

Alan Mayer and his wife Cindy were preparing for an upcoming craft fair, where they sell the sweet stuff under the name Mayer Maple Producers, when most of their stock was either destroyed or stolen at some point during a 24-hour window.

The burglar or burglars broke into their maple sugar house and stole 12 gallons of maple syrup, Vermont State Police said. Worse, eight maple syrup barrels had been punctured with what is thought to have been an axe, causing 300 gallons to leak out. The sugaring equipment, bottling tanks, evaporator and pans were also punctured with holes believed to be from the axe.

Each gallon of syrup was valued at about $40. Only a Marlboro wrapper was left behind by the culprit in the burglary, which took place sometime between Monday 20 November at 5pm and the next day at 5.30pm in the town of Bristol.

Cindy Meyers, speaking to the Burlington Free Press, said: "They just went through and trashed it, basically. That's nearly an entire season's worth — an entire crop — it's on the floor over there." She said the perpetrator must have been a "disturbed individual".