Guest Author

Guest Author

Is Garden Theft an Issue in Your Town?

Posted by Guest Author Thursday, June 19, 2014 3:24 PM EST


CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, a Toronto-focused show hosted by Matt Galloway, interviewed two local listeners who told their stories of plant theft.


“They were dug completely up and holes were left in the garden” said Cindy Wilkes of the planter in front of her East Toronto establishment, the Brooklyn Tavern, reports.


Plant theft – strangers digging up your plants in the middle of the night (sometimes even in broad daylight!) and making off with them -- seems to be a growing problem in Toronto.


Wilkes’ neighbour reportedly even caught the thief, a woman, who apologized after the neighbour confronted her.


Other Toronto restaurants and businesses report suffering similar thefts, including renowned chef Susur Lee’s restaurant, Bent, and a fave’d ‘it’ spot, Campagnolo.


For downtown businesses however, especially ones on the war path of weekend partiers, as Bent and Campagnolo are, this is par for the course.


It seems much more premeditated and evidently hurtful, however, when it happens to home owners. Paul Van Dongen erected this sign after plants were repeatedly stolen from his Toronto garden:

Photo courtesy of Jim Rankin, Toronto Star, @Jleerankin,


Creative language (and the commendably correct use of apostrophe) aside, the sign does little to veil the personal affront Van Dongen feels about his garden being violated.


So what kind of people are plant thieves? This lady caught on video by someone from Joseph’s Barber Shop in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood looks completely unremarkable in every way, that is to say, nothing about her screams plant thief.



But then, a colleague of mine at the office confessed that her mother, after practicality dictated that she sell the family home in the Ontario countryside, mustered the courage to return at night, after the sale of her home had closed, to dig out some of her favourite plants from the gorgeous garden, which stood to be impacted by the new owners’ renovation plan. And I think I condone that.


My own mother has reported plant thievery in her Toronto neighbourhood of North York, but she not only accepts it, she goes as far as excuse the Russian ‘babas’ she’s seen brazenly digging up her Lilly of the Valley, as a vestige of Soviet desperation.


The recent host of reporting on the subject inspires further duscussion: why do people feel it’s ok, that they’ll do it in broad daylight? Is it ever ok? Is taking from a park less bad? Has this ever happend to you, and how do you feel about it?

Topics: News, Gardening, Plants, Theft, Urban Issues


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