A mysterious gang of marauding plant thieves has been yanking flowers and snagging herbs right out of the gardens of some lush homes in Bay Ridge.
At least 12 residents in a seven-block radius awoke two Fridays ago to discover that someone had used clippers to swipe their cherished shrubbery.
Residents were aghast at the sheer barbarism of the act.
“I was crying all morning,” said Fatama Yafei, a resident of 247 79th St. “What kind of people would do something like this?”
The “who” remains a mystery, but the “where” is public knowledge, at least to residents accustomed to the beautifully manicured lawns and gardens of Bay Ridge.
The green-thumbed perps hit the blocks between 79th and 86th Streets from Shore Road to Third Avenue, where stems now wither in front of many homes where green goodness formerly blossomed.
It appears that more than one person is involved due to the sheer scope of the vandalism.
Yafei says she believes the bandits struck her house between 2 and 4 am, when they opened her front gate, walked into the middle of her garden, and cleanly clipped a three-foot high shrub known as a snowball. The perps even left behind an empty beer bottle. A trail of leaves led toward Third Avenue — but then vanished.
Getting to the roots of the mystery has proven to be a thorny proposition, since the bandits do their clipping at night and there have been no reported eyewitnesses. Since there is no known black market for contraband foliage, the case becomes murkier.
Yafei believes it could be a crime of passion.
“It is probably just some kids pulling a prank,” said Yafei. “Maybe someone just wants to give his girlfriend some flowers.”
Regardless of intentions, the perps could find themselves in hot water if this operation gets nipped in the bud.
That’s because clipping plants is vandalism — and convicted vandals can go to prison.
Of course, there is nothing new under the sun; at least as far as plant clippers are concerned.
Only a decade ago, many Brooklyn residents even went to the extent of chaining their plants to the ground, but those days were thought to be behind us. The new band of plant thieves has residents wondering if the time has come to bring back the chains — or maybe even vigilante justice.
“Do I need to chain the rest of my plants?” asked Yafei with a laugh. “I’ll tell you one thing, if I find out who did this I will clip off their hands.”
Officer Jeffery Swain from the 68th Precinct suggested a slightly different punishment.
“Stealing plants is larceny, which means that if you are caught, you could certainly go to jail,” he said. “We encourage everyone whose plants are stolen to report it as soon as it happens.”
Swain says his superiors know that plant theft is a growing problem in Bay Ridge.
“People steal anything that isn’t chained down,” he added.
But the motive remains a mystery.
The manager of Enchanted Florist, a Fifth Avenue plant store, said it’s unlikely that the thieves are re-selling the pilfered plants.
“People who steal plants out of yards to resell them are going to have a problem,” said the manager, who gave his name only as Steve. “Once the plant is established, it is hard to be replanted and in most cases it will die.”
He said the crime is most likely being committed by kids with nothing better to do. But he added that a full grown snowball like the one stolen from Yafei could sell for more than $60.
That’s a lot of green.
©2007 Community News Group
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