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VIDEO: Plant Thief Digs Up and Steals 2 Perennials from Ft. Greene Tree Pit

By Janet Upadhye | June 15, 2015 7:21am
VIDEO: Plant Thief Steals 2 Perennials from Tree Pit
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South Oxford Block Association

FORT GREENE — A woman was caught on camera digging up and carrying off two large plants from a fenced-in tree pit on South Oxford Street.

The two leafy green Hostas were planted by South Oxford Block Association president Abby Weissman's wife — who is currently being treated for cancer and spent years caring for the tree pit and plants, Weissman said.

He said the Hostas took two years to flourish and were planted for people in the neighborhood to enjoy.

"That was her plant and came directly from her efforts to beautify our home and the neighborhood," Weissman said.

"Why should anyone care what their own environment looks like and their quality of life if others can just walk in and take what they want, and there is nothing we can do about it?"

Weissman values that plants at $20 each.

He plans to file a police report but, in the meantime, he has supplied police at the 88th Precinct with footage from his webcam that captured the theft, which occurred on June 10 around 7 p.m.

The 88th Precinct did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The original seven-minute video shows a woman casually digging up the two plants and then placing them in plastic bags before she strolls down the block with them in her arms.

Tree pits are technically owned by the city and managed by homeowners, according to the Parks Department.

"The alleged thief walks away holding my plant like it was a proud purchase," Weissman said.

The same camera also filmed a dog walker blatantly leaving her pet's poop on the sidewalk outside of his building last year. 

Weissman's tree pit isn't the only one that's been struck recently. A bed of lilies on the same block went missing within the last few weeks, according to Weissman and his neighbors who manage the tree pit but declined to be named.  

"At this point, myself and the block association are probably not going to spend any more money buying plants and bushes," he said.

The association has "invested thousands of dollars in perennials and annuals to beautify the block" since the late 1990s, Weissman said.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department encouraged residents to file complaints if their tree pits are tampered with.

"NYC Parks values the care New Yorkers give to their neighborhood trees and tree pits and we strongly encourage residents to call 311 if they wish to file a complaint," she said.

There were no 311-complaints about stolen plants on South Oxford Street in the last year.