A green-thumbed burglar is on the loose in Park Slope, striking fear in the roots of plants, and forcing owners to safeguard their property by any means necessary.
Victims say that the bandit has been stealing buds and bulbs for some time in and around Sixth, St. Marks and Flatbush avenues.
And the thief isn’t discriminating, snatching all manner of flora from stoops or front gardens, and forcing owners to tether their pots with sturdy cables, or even cement them firmly to the ground.
“Every spring, those of us with front yards have to chain our plants,” said Pauline Blake, who lives on St. Marks Avenue and is also president of the 78th Precinct Community Council, a civic group that meets monthly with cops.
Blake said her household has been victimized by the flower fiend for years — indeed, last week, the kleptofloramaniac nabbed Blake’s sister’s red flowerpot — but left behind the small pine tree that once called it home. “We figured the next thing is that they’re coming for the plant,” she said. Last year, the thief made off with the Blake’s azaleas.
“They just come in and help themselves to anything in front,” she said.
Over the years, Blake estimated she’s lost hundreds of pots and plants — and hundreds of dollars.
“I always bring it up to the police,” she noted.
Cops said they are alert to the situation, but are having trouble pinning down the varmint because “no one is really making reports on it,” said Capt. Bill Russo of the 78th Precinct. “We’ve haven’t gotten any physical complaints, but we are aware, and looking out for it.”
Eladia’s Kids, a childcare center on Flatbush off Prospect Place, is among the victimized. Sarah Valk, the administrative director there, said that a small evergreen — pot and all — outside disappeared last September.
“I was baffled at the audacity of someone taking the pot in broad daylight,” she said. “I just watered it, and the next minute, it was gone.”
As shocking as it was, Valk said she never told cops about the incident — and has now taken matters into her own hands, locking up the center’s pots with formidable steel cables.
Stealing a plant or flowerpot would likely be considered petty larceny, which is the theft of property valued below $1,000. As such, it would not typically show up in our weekly police blotter or in a precinct’s CompStat statistics.
The situation might not be exclusive to Park Slope. In front of Breeze Demolition on Bay Street in Red Hook, the trunks of mid-sized plants are kept safe by a Guantanamo Bay-esque ring of barbed wire. A worker declined to discuss the high security measure.
Cherry Blake said the thief — or thieves — treats the neighborhood like his own personal nursery.
“If they see anything they want, they just take it,” she said.
She now keeps her plants imprisoned behind an iron gate, confident that one day, plant owners will get some re-leaf.
“Eventually, he or she will get caught,” she said.
©2010 Community News Group
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