Despite what I have written about community gardens as a potential deterrent to crime, it appears that garden plants themselves are sometimes the targets of crime. My mother alerted me to this story from yesterday’s Seattle Times, headlined “Green thumbs with sticky fingers: Plant thieves strike Seattle yards, parks.” Plant theft is apparently a common problem, yet not one that is taken particularly seriously except by the victims. (A cultural note: in Seattle community gardens are almost universally referred to as P-Patches).
The realities of city living can be harsh: Windows get smashed. Fender-benders abound. Then, when you least expect it, someone goes and makes off with your shrubs.
“I expect cars to be broken into,” says Beacon Hill resident April Jahns. “But stealing shrubs seems really bizarre.”
Around Seattle, thieves have plundered P-patches and pilfered public parks. About $2,000 worth of plants has been lifted from Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park alone over the last 16 months, according to Seattle Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter, while homeowners and others report thefts ranging from Seward Park to Washington Park Arboretum.
Honestly. What kind of person would steal plants right out of the ground? What a shame. And the article makes it clear that this isn’t just a case of indiscriminate vandalism.
Not far away, on a wooded hillside across the street from Pacific Medical Center, Vinh Nguyen and a crew of volunteers have been restoring native species at 5-acre Lewis Park in hopes of promoting local wildlife. The project is part of the Green Seattle Partnership, which aims to restore 2,500 acres of forested city parkland.
But late last month, someone uprooted a dozen or so plants, many of which Nguyen had bought in Bellingham with his own money. “They’re impossible to get here,” said Beacon Hill resident Dee Dunbar, a project volunteer.
Nguyen is still rattled by the situation. Like others, he said, the thieves appear selective and knowledgeable. “They didn’t steal the cheap ones.”
And because so much was taken, it leads him to think the plants are sold — perhaps by an unscrupulous landscaper — to unwitting clients.
People there are literally chaining up their plants to prevent theft. It made me think about the Temple Garden I wrote about yesterday; I wonder if they’ve had a problem with plant and/or fruit larceny. And I wonder if theft of larger garden plants and shrubs is a problem around DC’s neighborhoods. Have people here had stuff yanked right out of the ground? It’s not something I’ve heard about, but maybe it doesn’t make headlines because there are so many more egregious crimes to report on.