Sunday, June 26, 2016

Weird Crime Spree: Somebody Stealing Burlington, Vermont Gardens

A gap in a Burlington garden because of a plant thief
who is on a crime spree in that city.
Photo buy Joel Banner Baird/Burlington Free Press.
Vermont isn't the worst high crime neighborhood in the world, but sometimes, the crimes are downright weird.

For instance, lately, there's a crime spree in Burlington, Vermont's largest (but still small!) city.

Somebody is stealing garden plants from resident's yards and homes.

This isn't just some drunk college students ripping up flowers and breaking tree branches on an intoxicated late night stagger through the neighborhoods.

Somebody who knows what they're doing is carefully digging up flowers, plants and shrubs, or carefully clipping flower blooms in apparent attempts to make floral arrangements.

According to the Burlington Free Press, at least 26 people reported plant thefts within 10 days, (Warning, if you click on the Free Press link, you'll have to complete surveys and deal with pop up ads to actually get to the story. )

Sometimes the thief or thieves have pulled up easily replaceable annuals like marigolds. Other times, expensive shrubs or bushes disappeared.

My theory, because the plants have been so carefully uprooted, is somebody is getting these plants for "free" by stealing them, then reselling them for a profit somewhere.

Most of the thefts have happened in Burlington's Old North End, a neighborhood of homes that are fairly close together with small yards.

The neighborhood has experienced a welcome rebellion against lawns, and many homeowners have pulled up lots of sod and replaced the plots with beautiful vegetable and flower gardens.

This includes easily accessible spots, like erstwhile front yards.

Gardeners are famous with their generosity, and will very often divide some perennials for you if you see some in somebody's yard that you really like.

"If someone had knocked on my door and asked for some plants, I would have gladly split some of the perennials and give them some. And most people I know would have done the same," said Emily Lee, one of the plant theft victims told the Burlington Free Press.

But somebody is not politely asking for the plants.  They're just taking.

Burlington City Councilor Sara Giannoti, who represents the hardest hit part of town is dismayed because this is a quality of life issue.

"For it to happen to people who take so much time and effort to beautify a neighborhood - it hits your soul," she said.

A lot of the thefts are fairly unusual specimens, so the garden thief has taste, even if the lousy person or persons has no morals.

Among the plants to disappear are three dwarf apples trees that a man had planted as a memorial to his late mother-in-law; a dwarf weeping Japanese maple and a beautiful red blooming Asiatic lily.

People in the neighborhood are setting up surveillance cameras in an effort to catch the plant criminals.

A technician at the University of Vermont Medical Center is offering to help people set up inexpensive surveillance systems.

This is good. I hope the what I believe to be the World's Most Unethical Gardener gets caught. And I'm dying to know who it is.

As an avid gardener myself, I know my fellow gardeners tend to be a friendly, honest bunch. I hope this Burlington bad apple gets caught before he steals more good apple trees. Or any other plant.


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