WEST RIDGE — City Service Taxi in West Ridge has a message for the bandit who ripped several plants straight from their flower beds before walking away: Shame on you.
Lynnette Samaniego, office manager for the taxi service headquartered at 2601 W. Peterson Ave., said the business' owner and his wife had recently hand-planted the flowers along Peterson Avenue and Rockwell Street.
When the team returned to work one June Monday, some of the flowers were noticeably gone.
Not potted plants, she said, but plants pulled straight up from the dirt before being stuffed into a plastic bag and smuggled away.
By that afternoon, the taxi team had reviewed its security footage and could see a solitary woman emerge from an alley behind the shop at 2:46 a.m. before pulling out a bag, looking around, and proceeding north on Rockwell toward the flower beds.
Samaniego on Wednesday said the business is offering a $500 reward if anyone can identify the woman, or the flowers.
Video shows the woman pulling at a plant. [DNAinfo/City Service Taxi]
"It seems like she was planning it because she looks nervous," Samaniego said. "It was like she was working up to it."
The woman, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, can be seen tugging on the plant before walking away, when Samaniego said she sat down just out of frame and smoked a cigarette while anxiously stroking her leg.
Linze Rice discusses how the company is responding to the thief:
Just out of view, but captured by another camera that wasn't working at the time DNAinfo viewed the footage, the woman ripped another flower out of the bed, Samaniego said. Screen grabs from that angle are blown up and taped to the company's shiny glass windows facing the street.
She then walks back into frame and can be seen hurriedly tying up her plastic bag with something inside, then stuffing that bag into a larger bag hanging on her shoulder.
Footage from another camera shows the woman sitting down, then shoving what appears to be a plant into her bag. In the video, she can be seen tying the plastic bag before putting that inside a larger bag on her shoulder. [DNAinfo/City Service Taxi]
Samaniego said the woman then turned west at the corner onto Peterson and took several more flowers from the building's front facade.
"And then she just walked away," she said.
Samaniego said the owner, who was not available for comment, decided not to file a police report — but took matters into his own hands.
Immediately, the company took still frames of the flower thief from video footage and plastered them all over the building's front windows — visible to anyone walking the bandit's path.
The date, time, and various shots of the woman are set along handwritten messages such as: "Beware plant [thief], we got you on camera!" and "Reward: Do you recognize this plant thief?"
Do you recognize this plant thief? [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
"It was kind of weird thing, it's flowers. And that's what makes it so pathetic, like are you really going to steal some flowers?" she said. "So he just wanted to shame her, in case she came back again. It's just pathetic."
New flowers have been planted — and the woman has not returned, she said.
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