26 January 2011

The Great Camellia Robbery

| flashedward
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What’s a gardener to do?

You plan to grow a hedge to border your corner block on a busy road. So you spend months preparing, breaking down the hard clay soil with manure, gypsum and water, getting the pH levels right, just perfect for your camellia seedlings to thrive.

You plant your little babies and watch them take root and begin to prosper after surviving the natural elements such as extreme heat and heavy rain. They survive drunks stumbling past our house, the mad ranting fellows who like to dislodge our letterbox, and the local brats riding their bikes through our garden. You think your little plants are going to be all right.

And then one morning you wake to find 20 missing, stolen while you slept. They leave a slightly sickly looking one lying on the ground suggesting to this bitter gardener that this was no spur of the moment theft. This was planned. The poor little guys are unlikely to survive being uprooted the way they were. I suspect who ever has taken them will be disappointed to find them die over the next few weeks. So all their efforts under the cover of darkness will prove fruitless in the end. Let’s hope they don’t come back for the remaining ones in our garden to replace any casualties, as they won’t fare any better.

So if you see some young camellias in your travels that soon die in someone’s front garden, they just may be those unfortunate victims of the great 2011 camellia robbery. Or maybe not.

There is nothing one can really do about it of course. You can report it to the police. Which we did. But all that gets you is a number. You could sit outside your house for the next 2 years in a rocking chair armed with a shotgun, watching and waiting. But I don’t have a rocking chair, a shot gun or any patience come to think of it. You could rant about it I suppose. That just might make things a little better.

So I ask the keen gardeners of Canberra, am I alone in being the victim of garden theft? Anyone else had anything stolen from their front yard?

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We live on the edge of a Weston Creek suburb with a very popular path for evening strollers running past the front. We lose a couple of young plants at least every six months – including at least a couple of natives. Obviously some prick thinks they need them more than we do …

I’m sorry to hear about everyone else whose yards have been burgled, and thanks for your sympathy! I live in the inner north, and the camellias are sasanquas, but they’re too young to have any flowers yet so apart from general sickliness may be hard to identify if found planted elsewhere.

And I have been thinking about sensor lights and cameras so might take on board some of the advice (but perhaps not all – I’m still aiming for a nice front yard and not a fortress!).

Looks like I’ll be hedging my lawn with blackberry bushes and cactuses.

I recall Bunnings years ago selling a motion sensor attached to a Rolland Sprinkler with a timer, so that you could have it work only at night and came with an extension pole.

Wetting any potential thieves or animals who venture into your garden.

Instead of all the cameras, why not simply setup a floodlight system on a motion sensor. The camera photos alone won’t help if the Police have never caught the suspects before and at low light most of these cameras are next to useless.

But a floodlight system delivering enough brightness to confuse the local bird population should suitably deter most thieves.

Place it on a metal pole concreted into the ground if you want to avoid people kicking it over etc.

Kath said :

We’ve also lost $2 solar lights, which is just insulting

We had a string of solar lights tolen a while back, from a third floor balcony, no less!

Turned out it was magpies.

Spoono said :

This wouldn’t have happened if you’d planted natives..

That’s right, native plants are stolen from our national parks and natural bushland.

I see someone helped themselves to the Early Nancy (see previous post).

We had our front hedge trashed three times last year. Plants were just stomped on. They then started on our side hedge. Some barbed wire and a 300 watt sensor light seems to have curtailed the destruction.

I just don’t get it.

Best to install good quality HD video surveillance system with 24 hour cameras. I have several including hidden cameras.

Problem with video surveillance is it just moves the criminals on to your neighbours.

Criminals don’t respect an individuals privacy so why are they protected by privacy laws?

The only way to discourage these guys is to post their name and picture on the internet as part of their criminal sentence. At least then I would know who to watch out for.

This wouldn’t have happened if you’d planted natives..

My sympathies! We had a garden arch pinched from our corner block in Holt. It was set in about 20 kg of concrete with our address carved in it because of previous thefts, and they managed to carry it a block up the road before getting bored with that. (We dragged it back on the trailer.)

We’ve also lost $2 solar lights, which is just insulting, and the coloured rope that was meant to stop people trampling down the baby box hedge torn down so they could trample through. Humph! I’ve given up for the moment, though the long grass and spiny plants seem to have helped with througgh traffic!

Lost a hedge last year. Along with some agapathas. Weston Creek. Am planning on redoing it after I get the security organised. Got the bits n pieces. Going to install a camera/hard drive and electric fence.

What a low act! This is the sort of thing that leads to ugly streetscapes when home owners give up on planting in the front yard because of the risk of damage or theft.

LSWCHP said :

… The boxes actually say things like “Keep watch on your children, cleaners and others without their knowledge!”….

Wow! Well, at least the manufacturers are clear about their target market!

JustThinking4:26 pm 26 Jan 11

We have neighbours a few doors down who built a new house and landscaped.
Same problem. People nicking all their plants from out the front.
Neighbours actually got mad at me,,,because the same nights people were knicking their plants my sons were leaving push bikes on our front lawn and noone stole the bikes.
(either crappy bikes or our dog going off,,,or our ‘fake’ cameras set up at the front of the house with “warning, security serveillance signs”)

Catching thieves is one thing,,,deterring them is another.
If you have motion sensor lights,,,,or signs and visible cameras (where real or not) they will move onto someone else. (not soo good for someone else but hey)

Captain RAAF said :

Buy a game camera (camera used by hunters to see what beasties come and go from a particular place), set it up, get pics of the thieves, pass onto the po-po and quit your bitchin’.

Dick Smith in Belconnen Mall have a heap of (relatively) cheap spy gear that is designed specifically for this sort of thing. The boxes actually say things like “Keep watch on your children, cleaners and others without their knowledge!”. Set something up in a window and you might get lucky and pick up the vehicle tags or some other ID.

Holden Caulfield2:12 pm 26 Jan 11

Wow, was this post written by me during my sleep? Corner block; check. Wanting to shield our corner from ratbags on foot and on bikes; check. Okay, we’ve not had camellias nicked, but have had a similar number of hedging plants stolen over the years, and a couple of eucalypts and agapanthus as well.

To be fair, during the last incident (just prior to Christmas) the plants weren’t stolen, just uprooted and left sitting where they were once planted and healthy. Thanks to the spring/summer rains this was our hedge’s best season to date. We re-planted our stock, but alas, they did not survive and we now have a frustrating gap where the plants once stood.

The bigger issue, of course, is that one can’t go out and buy replacement plants that have the same growth as the ones we have lost. As noted, we’ve suffered similar thefts/vandalism at various times in the three years since we planted the hedge.

Very f@#king annoying I can tell you.

FWIW we are in the inner north, are you in a similar area flashedward, or do we have arseholes roaming all over our fair city?

Captain RAAF1:51 pm 26 Jan 11

Buy a game camera (camera used by hunters to see what beasties come and go from a particular place), set it up, get pics of the thieves, pass onto the po-po and quit your bitchin’.

Supposedly they take ’em to sell at markets like trash and treasure. For some reason “they” keep taking $1.50 box hedges 3 at a time from our garden – however I know from experience that when they steal them they end up dying anyway.

FFS! Isn’t anything safe anymore? That is disgusting. The pleasure of catching them dirty handed would be to smack them over the head with a shovel. Plants are not cheap.

Yes, some years ago we lost a little Japanese Maple tree, from the middle of our backyard.

This is awful. I feel for you. What suburb are you in? I assume they were camellia sasanquas? – I can keep an eye out in Tuggers for you, if you provide the colour/named variety(ies) they are. If all the same variety, the thief is probably going to use them for a hedge.

I have had a particularly pretty, flowering iris ‘removed’ by person/persons unknown once, and a hellebore, but never a theft on such a ‘bulk’ scale as yours. Also, I have learned not to leave any tags on plant purchases, as that is a giveaway to prospective thieves.

I seem to recall a number of trees were stolen a few years ago, from a Remembrance Driveway in or near Canberra shortly after planting – and the Tree Museum had practically a whole plantation some pinched recently. There are some despicable people about, unfortunately.

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