Updated/Fact-Chacked on August 5, 2020 by John
Believe it or not, this year, over three million households in Britain will wake up to find their garden has been turned over, but not by the gardener! The trade in stolen shrubs, patio furniture and lawns has become into a lucrative black market.
Shortly after moving to Dundee, the Dolans planted flowering shrubs to brighten up their front garden. A week later, leaving the house at 4.30am for his bakery job, John Dolan realised nine of the shrubs had disappeared. A week later, John was getting into his car, again in the early morning and saw there was now only level earth where the remaining two shrubs had stood.
One of their shrubs was recovered later in the day, it had been dropped into the field opposite, and they decided the thieves had judged it not impressive enough to bother with, so they replanted it and lavished it with care. A fortnight later the sole survivor was gone. And they are not alone …
We garden-loving Brits will spend nearly £7.5billion on our gardens in 2017 and some insurers predict up to a seventh of the items purchased will eventually be stolen. A special unit, at West Drayton Police Station, dealing with garden crime, has categorised the different types of gardening criminal:
1.The first is drunks going home late who steal plants and flowers as a way of getting out of trouble with the missus.
2.The second is the organised criminal who will steal fifty hanging baskets on a Saturday night to sell for a fiver each at a car boot sale a hundred miles away on Sunday.
3.The opportunist is the third, these robbers stocking up with other people’s plants and garden ornaments to auction off on eBay.
4.The fourth are ‘travellers’ heading for Wales – which is a centre of stolen plant disposal, apparently.
5.The fifth category is the semi-profession who steals for order and will specialise in rare plants and koi carp from a shopping list provided by unscrupulous collectors.
6.The sixth are the malicious and/or jealous thieves who select gardens entered for bloom competitions – often these are people you’ll pass in the street every day, peering into the gardens of others.
7.The final category is the ram-raiding gangs who’ll rip out an entire garden, like doing a bank job, while the owners are away.
John Green is a 46-year-old graphic designer living in Durham. John is RHS level 3 certified and owns an allotment in Durham.