WEST RIDGE — Gardeners, recreational flower-planters and beautification hobbyists beware: The West Ridge plant thief could still be on the loose.
Either that, or someone has taken up a similar hobby like that of a woman in June, who stole planted flowers straight from their beds outside a North Side taxi business, then stuffed in plastic bags in the middle of the night before the culprit nervously walked off with a bounty of flora.
The entire incident was caught by security cameras at City Taxi Service on West Peterson, which decided to post screenshots of the heist across its storefront, letting the plant bandit she was being watched.
The business is offering a $500 reward to anyone who can identify her.
Footage in June from one camera shows the woman sitting down, then shoving a plant into her bag. She can be seen tying the plastic bag before putting it inside a larger bag on her shoulder. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Lynnette Samaniego, office manager for the taxi service headquartered at 2601 W. Peterson Ave., says the ordeal is far from over. At least three more plants have been taken from the building's Peterson-facing facade, where she believes the thief knew there are no cameras.
Linze Rice says the owners are getting a bit fed up:
She said the owners, who spend their own free time planting the flowers in an effort to keep the neighborhood looking nice, are becoming discouraged and have recently decided not to replant the stolen flowers.
"We were all like, that is it, we are not beautifying our office anymore, we will just let the weeds grow," Samaniego said. "We try to make it look nice but people would just mess it up. They don't respect us."
City Service Taxi Co., 2601 W. Peterson Ave. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
She said other neighbors have come to the shop, too, after hearing about the company's ordeal and realizing their landscaping had also likely been victims to a plant thief.
Recently, one woman came in to report to Samaniego that her tulips had been uprooted, she said.
None of the incidents have been reported to police, Samaniego said, but Officer Janel Sedevic, a News Affairs spokeswoman, said anyone who believes their plants have been stolen should contact the police because it is still a crime to steal property.
While Sedevic said she's heard of complaints regarding stolen landscaping before, such as potted plants or gardening accessories like hoses that are not guarded by a fence, she's never personally heard of anyone pulling plants up the roots and whisking them away inside a bag.
Samaniego said it's a shame that someone would do this when her bosses have worked so hard to help the business fit in with the neighborhood.
"It's just sad," she said.
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