Is reporting stolen plants worth it? Yes and no
Welcoming visitors and garden admirers, keeping thieves and trespassers away
Lately, I’ve been on a hosta picture-taking mission. It didn’t start until a month ago, when a family member saw hostas in our condo garden and wanted to grow some in her yard. Considering there are 70 species of hostas and over 3,000 registered varieties, finding hostas during dog walks became a fun thing to do. While I strolled around my neighborhood, I’d snap a pic or two, text them to her, and go about my walk.
But with recent news of brazen plant thieves, this took the fun out of it — and showed me just how idiotic people can be. In Ravenswood, a north side Chicago neighborhood, a stranger sat on someone’s porch for a minute, then swiftly stole the homeowner’s basil, dill, thyme and lettuce. Even with the surveillance camera aimed right at him, he just kept on stealing plants (for a meal?). I shook my head.
I still remember when the same relative who wants to plant hostas also had her decorative flower pots stolen from her porch. But unlike the basil-growing homeowner, my family member had no gate. We naively thought that that was the reason the thief felt comfortable enough to snatch and run. After all, it’s easier to stroll up to an ungated home like these other plant thieves did in 2019.
But in what may be the most bizarre law lesson to learn, when another garden thief stole a yellow-star dahlia from a woman’s gated garden, the police wouldn’t even take the report. Why? According to Block Club Chicago, the police denied filing her report because she didn’t have a “no trespassing” sign.
I now understand why one homeowner near my condo just leaves plastic cups of flowers on his front lawn for people to take as they go by. For several years, I’ve observed those cups left out on a table. I, too, would rather give away free flowers than have someone yank them from my yard. (I have taken a few cups over the years, when my dog isn’t overly energetic and causing the cup water to splash all over her leash. Last fall, I slid a handwritten “thank you” card into the homeowner’s mailbox when the weather cooled and the table of flowers disappeared.)
But for homeowners who actually want to enjoy all their plants and all their flowers in their own lawns without giveaways, how are they supposed to protect their property?