stolen plants?

sara82lee(8a - SE Va)August 11, 2013

I don't really know the best forum to post this in...

This morning I noticed that two medium sized pots with some annuals in them were missing from the end of my walkway. Then, I noticed about 10 holes in the ground along the sidewalk where plants used to be. Small patches of blanket flower, coreopsis, some lilies, acidanthera, a luna hibiscus... This is a new bed so I've been working all summer to get things established so that it would be even better next year. Now much of it is gone, literally stolen by someone overnight.

I'm a bit sick over this. I don't know whether to get new plants - will they just be taken again? If I plant things now, will they even be established enough to come back next year? I don't think much is even available at this point. I've probably got around two months left of a growing season.

As always, thanks. Y'all are the best. I almost feel like I'm mourning my flowers.

This post was edited by sara82lee on Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 21:02

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All I can say is how sorry I am you've suffered such an awful loss. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I went walkabout my flowerbeds and discovered things had been dug up and taken. Makes me grateful my ND neighbor is in law enforcement.

Where I live we compliment & admire a neighbor's flowerbeds for improving the look & value of the neighborhood as well as offer to divide things to give away--we don't steal our neighbors' plants to enhance our own garden.

My guess would be the perps aren't gardeners.

You're in a warmer zone than I am--you could likely grow replacement plants for pennies via the winter sowing method. Trading seeds on GW might be your best bet but let me know what perennials you're looking for--if I have them growing, I'll be happy to offer you seeds this fall in exchange for postage.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:20PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

So sorry to hear that. It's a shame someone would target you like that. If you feel like trying again this year give it a go, you have more than enough time. I wouldn't replace everything all at once, a whole bed of newly planted replacements might be a risky plan when you know a thief has their eye on your yard. I wouldn't replace the driveway pots until you've had a while to think it over.
Growing up we had plants and toys stolen, Christmas light pulled off the shrubs, and even a sprinkler stolen while it was on. In case you were wondering it made no difference that our neighbor was a police detective....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:33PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I would certainly contact the police, just so they can increase surveillance. This may be more widespread than you know. I'd also consider contacting your home owners insurance rep. I'm so sorry for your losses.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:44PM
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delete post

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 1:57

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:55PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

That is absolutely horrible. I can't imagine what kind of creep would do that.

I would definitely let my neighbors know at the very least because who knows what else this person is helping themselves to.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Gee-what a drag! After all your work, that is what you get? It would make me want to put Harrison's yellow rose all around my property! I agree that talking to the neighbors would be good so you can all keep an eye out. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:40AM
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Just so incredible that this happened. A lot of people put up those motion activated lights. Try to do that before replanting I love my plants almost as much as I love my pets.Any chance it was not random?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:01AM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

I would call the police and, if you have one, your neighborhood association. People who steal like this often hit more than one house in an area.

I would not replant that bed right away. It would only be an offering for the thief to take them again.

Scan your local Craigs list and see if they are trying to sell your plants.

This thief is a real dastard. I hope he gets caught.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 8:36AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Sara, that is so sad! I'm sorry to hear of this. I can't imagine the disappointment in humanity you must feel when someone steals your plants.

I worked at a nursery for one summer and there was a very small handful of people who came in to buy replacement plants after the originals were stolen or yanked out. In one case it was due to discrimination, which just makes me sick.

I agree with the advice to call the police and neighborhood association if there is one. I also agree that you should go forth and get new plants. Staring at those empty holes would make me sad every day. Maybe your new plants ought to be thorny? Globe thistle, barberry, or some badass roses?

Hang in there. Know that whoever did this is a miserable person who has to live with their miserable self every day.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 9:29AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

It must be the season for such things.... There was an article in the Friday paper here about plant thefts from the garden! So, if it's any comfort, you're not alone :-(

Here is a link that might be useful: plant thefts

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You were home, sleeping and someone was UN-gardening in your yard? Trying to imagine how I'd feel but don't think I can, it's just too horrible. So sad, so sorry!!!

If you do plant anything decent again, I would get a motion-activated security/wildlife camera thing. When something moves, it takes a pic, in the dark too if it's a good one. At least if they come back, you'll have their pic, for the police and maybe the newspaper article. I think any paper would write that story if they had a pic to go with it. Maybe calling would be a good idea anyway. Are they getting other calls?

Contacting the neighbors and looking for your plants on craigs list & ebay are excellent ideas.

This makes me wish I could tell our dog this is something I'd like to hear barking about, especially in the front yard.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:06PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Well that just stinks! Definitely call the police. It is surprising how often people do this from what I hear. I would also alert neighbors.

I am so sorry you had this happen to you. I hope all the plants die for the thief!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:49PM
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A dummy camera and a discreet sign warning of video surveillance might be an effective deterrent.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:55PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I'm sorry that happened to you, sara. I have heard of expensive sego palms, cacti and baskets being slolen, but now theives are lifting perennials? No matter the cost, it is such an invasion. I agree with the other posters; neighborhood awareness may be the best chance of nabbing the crooks.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:27PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I would feel sick over it too. We all put so much of ourselves into our garden, I can understand that you are mourning your flowers. That feeling of someone invading your space too.

I would not have thought to look on Craig's List for your plants. Great idea. I wonder if you could ride around your neighborhood and make sure your pots and plants have not shown up in someone's yard? I can't help but wonder how this person was aware of your plantings, unless he walks or drives by them at some point. So maybe he is known to someone.

I think any decisions you can make about how to be proactive in preventing it from happening again, will allow you to start to feel better. Motion sensitive lights, a dog, a fence, planting closer to the house away from the street. a prickly hedge as a barrier to people having access to your front yard. It's very sad when you can't even trust that someone will not take annuals and perennials out of your front yard.

Very sorry to hear that and I hope somehow he gets caught and that something good comes out of this for you.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 3:17PM
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jujujojo_gw(6b 7a)

I feel you. I lost an African Violet yesterday - it was a Sunday and it was done during the day. I checked the plant in the morning and it was gone in the evening. For just one pot of African Violet, I could not call the Police. The pot was too shiny blue and gold, I guess.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Holy cow. I have always worried that someone was going to help themselves to my Daylilies - there are over 350 growing here now, but so far, no one has. I'm so sorry for your loss. I would feel violated if someone dug plants out of my flower beds.

Things are getting bad out there, but I guess I didn't know just how bad until reading this thread. You and jujujojo have my sympathy.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 3:51PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It must feel terrible, but keep in mind you're not alone. It looks like this is becoming kind of a widespread problem.

This story made our local news earlier this summer.


Here is a link that might be useful: Plant thieves

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:06PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

On a related but somewhat lighthearted note, I learned a new garden term last week: "finger blight."

Use it in a sentence: "The tomatoes near the sidewalk were just about ripe, then I lost them all to finger blight."

Finger blight means someone grabs your veggies/fruit/plants. I love the term, although I am discouraged by the actual occurrence. I was a little worried about this last weekend with the garden tour and a dozen perfectly red tomatoes draped off a plant in the greenhouse. But I didn't take inventory beforehand - I'd rather just not know about it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:41PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I'm sorry you lost your plants. That stinks.

One year I planted 3 small Bluestone hostas in a front garden bed, put the tags in the ground next to them. They were close to the sidewalk but there was shrubbery between the sidewalk and the hosta plants, so I was surprised when somebody came up and stole 2 of them.

It was quite odd because they took 1 plant each night for 2 nights. I noticed the first one gone, but thought I must be imagining things, or maybe a critter ate it or something? But the next night another one was gone! Can you imagine? someone coming 2 nights in a row! So I immediately saved the last little plant and moved it up near the house.

Maybe replace your plants with boring green hostas and orange daylilies, lol. And put your nice plants in the back yard.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 5:43PM
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I would definitely keep the more choice plants in the back yard, and leave the common ones in the front. Maybe even some divisions from stuff in the back.

People can be such scum...perhaps the thief is even a neighbour who has admired your plants during their nightly walks? Who knows why some people think it's fine to steal other people's possessions?

Gardeners are often very generous people, with their knowledge and with their plants. I'm sure a lot would give a small piece of a plant if they were asked.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 6:10PM
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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

Wow, I've just been able to check back, and I want to thank you all for your kind words and good advice. I am going to try to make some positive out of this. I have learned how generous my neighbors can be! I am going to replace one or two things, my neighbors have given me a few things I didn't have before, and I think I might try winter sowing, which I've never done before, to fill in the rest. I'm going to do something as far as a camera or motion sensor, too, but I'm not sure what yet. That's a great idea.

Thanks again to everyone for all of your kindness. My sympathy to others who've had this problem. Who knew it was so widespread? It never even occured to me as a possibility.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:04AM
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sorry to here about your plants maybe put a camera than you can see them I don't think they cost to much

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:15AM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

Wow...I am just

I am so sorry this happened! I would be in shock.

I had concidered doing a garden tour once we had the place in good shape. Then a friend did one (in a different city) and a day or two later her car was stolen-right from the garage while her husband was home. They suspect the theif was scoping out opportunities by touring gardens. Such a shame.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:52AM
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gumneck 7A Virginia

I live in an urban area and I have heard of people stealing city-planted flowers but I can't say I've heard of folks taking something out of someone's yard. That's really sad. I agree with everyone here that gardeners are usually generous so thievery is not necessary. I often buy clearance plants and will leave them in the pots for a while. They could be easily pilfered but so far none have gone missing.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:24AM
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This reminds me of that awful, crazy rhubarb lady on youtube!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:33PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Thanks for that video tip ech. It puts a lot of things in perspective. If anyone else takes a peek be prepared for more f bombs out of an old lady than you would think possible. Plus plenty of other choice words.
Gardeners are more of a cutting and seed pod stealing group (please hold off on that topic until winter boredom sets in), I would bet some fly by night, out of the back of their pickup, "landscaper" would be the ID of the thief.... "My client wants more of the flowering stuff, I know where to get it"

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:57PM
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I had the same thought Kato. No one who gardens for pleasure would do this to another gardener.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:32PM
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I agree with emmarene - nobody who enjoys gardening would do this? I mean, I would steal some people's ENTIRE garden if I could... just lift the whole thing up magically and drop it in my yard... but thats a different story.
I'm sorry to those who had theirs stolen. Sara - I have an abundance of rose champion, columbine and heliopsis seeds (heliopsis plants, too). Let me know if you'd like some to try with your winter sowing.
A few years ago when I lived at my apartment, I had my catalytic converter stolen off my car. It was this unbelievable feeling. Not so much shock that something of mine was stolen, but more so it was parked in the lot right near my apartment. So at night, while I slept, my head was on my pillow literally 10-15 feet away from someone stealing from me. That's what just blew my mind.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:00AM
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My sympathies on the loss; it's a dreadful feeling. I've lost flowers to finger blight, had bulbs dug up and taken that I planted along the road, and in one really miserable event my entire potato crop, just dug and curing for a day prior to storage, was stolen while I was at work. Needless to say, I no longer plant along the road out of sight of the house and bring my winter vegetable harvests out of sight of passers-by to dry. However, I also have neighbors who tell me how much they enjoy my gardens as they drive by, and they give me pleasure, so I don't let the few miserable souls who think it's OK to steal from my gardens ruin my pleasure.

This post was edited by nhbabs on Sat, Aug 17, 13 at 7:48

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:38PM
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I just found this thread tonight. I am so sorry that this happened to you. I too have had "finger blight". Someone stole my one and only butternut squash. Took all summer to get it to flower and become a fruit. Went to check on it yesterday and it was gone; not even ripe yet. I am in a community garden and the upsetting thing is that it is a fellow gardener. I can't get him in trouble because it is my word against his. He has also stolen my 3 onions and zucchini. And he damaged my plant. It is so violating to be treated like this. We all work hard on our gardens and to have someone who didn't lift a finger steal our garden is unacceptable.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 1:50AM
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Very sorry, Sara.

The voles mine out my spring bulbs, but I guess at least that's not theft.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:25PM
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terrene(5b MA)

So sorry Gardengal! Geez, 1 measly squash and few onions and zucchini...somebody needs to get a life!

The voles have "stolen" so many of my bulbs in the front garden. I used to have numerous Muscari, Hyacinthus, Hyacinthoides, Lillium, and Camassia and the voles nearly wiped them all out! Thank goodness for the castor oil repellent I learned about on the Hosta forum. It saved my last few bulbs... :(

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:58PM
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Thanks, Terrene! I agree. Animals can be devastating too. I am glad you were able to save a few but that is so annoying to work hard and have anything or anyone steal your work. If I move to a house next year, I will have to study up on how to keep the non-human pest out. Clipping your post on castor oil so I don't forget. Voles sound like a nightmare :(!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 6:38AM
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fieldofflowers(3 or 4a)

"finger blight" is attacking the begonias I planted in the front yard. Last week one went missing. Now (between yesterday and today) about 4. One wax, both rex and at least one tuberous.

My garden is in the midst of a urban area. I don't know what to do. People say not to plant anything, but then it will look like crap, and people will litter in the area. I'm so discouraged. Begonias are expensive and impatiens aren't really an option anymore because of the downy mold.

I left a plant stake sign next to a remaining begonia to please not steal plants. I doubt it will work, but at least they know I am aware of what is going on.

I wish I could spot the thief in action.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:19PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Aww, that's terrible, I'm so sorry.

I suggest the following sign:

Spider research in progress
Do not approach plants

You could substitute "spider" research for whatever kind of being might give the most heebee geebies. Wasps, jellyfish, Ebola, your pick.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:08PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Fieldof, you have my sympathies. I lost some things to a thief last week, and plants not all that easy to replace in this garden we've been renovating. They climbed the hill behind my house and dug 3 shrubs, one perennial - part of a group of plants that were important enough to me I had moved them from my former house last year. Gone, not even a leaf left behind. I have garden lights, patio and lawn lights, all were on so this wasn't someone working in the shadows or total darkness. So creepy, I can't tell you how mad I was.

I reported it to the police. I didn't particularly want to install cameras or even a game camera, but I did buy faux security cameras to mount facing out from the back of the house and on the garden shed. They look reasonably authentic, and came with signs alerting people 'cameras in use'. I made sure all the neighbors knew too, so people could be more watchful and so they'd know someone had been lurking around at night.

Hopefully no one will be back, at either your garden or mine.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:05PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

We have a 6 ft. stockade fence around our back yard where my garden is, even this didn't stop someone from coming in to do some "selected" shopping. I had grown some Cowichan Primulas from seed, they were in a low planter on some steps, we came home one day to find someone had dug out the one in the middle, the prettiest deep inky blue I have ever seen.

I don't garden much out front anymore, at least I don't plant anything anyone would want, someone came again when we were out and dug up my little patch of Spring Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum) I had planted along the side of our house, very hard to find around here. I finally managed find and buy a few more but at five bucks a bulb they're a little on the pricy side.

I use to have a very large fuchsia collection back in the 80's, again someone came in a took off with the one I was grooming for show 'Lechlade Gorgon' sorry I don't have a picture of it but here's a picture of some of the ones I grew from cuttings this particular year. Our gates are all bolted from the inside when we go out now :(.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:43AM
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You could plant poison ivy and nettles in with your plants...

You could put up a small fence and a " no trespassing" sign. Clear borders may stop the casual person who picks flowers, but probably wouldn't stop someone who steels whole pots.

You could put in big pots that are hard to move.

Anyway, Fall is a great time to plant things.

My Mom lost some bulbs from her front yard to theft.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:36PM
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Maybe some nice little mousetraps, set but sans bait, hidden under the plants. Paint them with camo paint to match the plants or the mulch. Wicked laugh...

Just don't forget about them.

This post was edited by ruth_mi on Thu, Aug 7, 14 at 15:43

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Erect a small barrier fence...and...signage.
Exercise extreme caution, this plot of land has been exposed to the Ebola virus. Avoid at all costs. Possible effects: death.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 3:52PM
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My sister had this happen to her. Her husband is a bird biologist and they hid some animal tracking devices in the plants (azealeas.) They found that the culprit was a neighbor who lived just a few blocks away. They confronted the neighbor. I don't remember much more detail. I think it would be a good idea to contact the police as another reader suggested.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:19AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Very sorry to hear so many people reporting thefts of plants. I read a story in the paper this week about someone thinking someone was tampering with their chickens in their backyard and they ended up calling the police. The police installed cameras, I believe and they did catch the person based on the video and it was a neighbor. So I would start by calling the police. They should have it on record, there may be others in the neighborhood that are having the same problem.

I think you can get a game camera for under $100. I'd want a real camera vs. fake, to have evidence of who was stealing plants so they could be prosecuted.

'Knock on Wood', I've never had anything stolen even from the front garden and I garden in the front all the time. I even have a tomato planted and not even a tomato has been missing. I've lived here 20+ years, and I do appreciate feeling some trust for my neighbors.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:58AM
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