Gardeners may have green thumbs, but some of them also have sticky fingers.
Plant theft is on the rise in the Central Highlands, with hundreds of dollars’ worth of plants stolen from public gardens, parks and streetscapes in Emerald alone over the past few months.
Jim McLean, a member of the Central Highlands Regional Council’s Parks and Gardens crew, said the senseless vandalism and pilfering was ‘very disappointing’.
‘A lot of love, time and care goes into propagating our plants and it takes a lot of preparation to get a garden ready to plant – mulching and the soil, getting the weeds, spraying out,’ he said.
‘Then you put your plants in and our crews come back the next day and the plants are gone and they’re very upset.
‘They work hard to get these gardens up to scratch to be presentable and they’re proud of their work. It’s very hard on our crews.’
According to Jim, thieves had been targeting the Emerald Botanical Gardens in particular.
‘It’s not only on the eastern side, but the western side as well, up near the windmill.
‘I think these people are opportunists, they see something nice and just take it.
‘Everyone needs to understand that it’s not just the value of the plant, it’s the cost of the time and effort to even get it to planting stage—ratepayers foot the bill for this.
‘If anyone sees something suspicious, just approach a council worker in the gardens and report it, or take the registration number of a vehicle if you see someone loading plants into a car and tell the police.
‘It’s hard to understand just why anyone in this community would steal plants and vandalise gardens, but it’s really disappointing.’
To report plant stealing or vandalism call council on 1300 242 686 or report it to Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.