Thursday, December 30, 2010

The succulent thief

My mom and I had lunch at Kirtsenbosch, as I wanted to see the nursery. As usual, I started to long for my own fynbos garden, with ericas and proteas, and pelargoniums and scented gnidias and flowers visited by sunbirds (but where would I put the roses?).

I was aware of a busy little grey-haired, sandle-wearing man, bustling about. I thought he worked there. Then, when I was over at the far end of the nursery, alone, I noticed him in the shade house, tossing some things over the fence into the botanical garden, which is separate from the nursery. I smiled vaguely at him. He darted off.

Huh, I thought.

So I went to have a look. There, lying in the tufts of grass on the other side of the fence were little pots of succulents, from one of the shelves in the nursery. I headed for the nearest salesperson, passing the little grey man on the way, who was studying the succulents on display again, and explained that they were being burgled. She dithered about a bit and then summoned two beefy security ladies to retrieve not the man, whom I described, but the plants!

Meanwhile the thief had got wind of my interest in him and had taken off his white windbreaker with NIKE emblazoned on the back, had folded it under his arm and was heading out, fast.

Um? I asked the saleslady...

He got away. I suppose I could have made a citizen's arrest: Stop, in the name of Flora!

I was bigger than him. And for some reason he did not strike me as South African; I peg him as European - something about the sandals. But I could be quite wrong.

So you see. The New York lily thief has company. They even cut their hair the same way.

And I agree. My sleuthing photos are terrible.


  1. But your willingness to get involved is impressive! Stealing plants! what's the world come to? He could volunteer at the garden and get extras, or ask a friend, or something. Stealing is not the way to acquire plants!

    Sorry they did not recognize the value of your attempt to help them. You go, Girl!

  2. I'm suprised and disappointed that the beefy security didn't say ANYTHING to the guy. I can understand how arresting him could more more hassle than it's worth, but a little intimidation from a security guard could go a long way (and isn't that what they dream about anyway?).

    We'll arrive in Cape Town two weeks from tonight! (Happy dance)

  3. Nancy Drew goes abroad.

    At least you saved the plants!

    Have you recovered from your 5:00am wake up?

    xo Jane

    Will be making your Swedish meatballs for New Year's Eve. Yum.

  4. Atta girl! Most people wouldn't have done as much as you did. Stealing from a botanic garden is low, indeed. If I'd been there with you we could have taken him down!

  5. Girl after my own heart. Well done. I'd send the pics to the Cape Times Marie. It would make a nice front page momento for him. On a gentler note .... how was your early morning horse ride?

  6. I CANNOT believe that anyone would have the cheek to do this! Nor can I believe that SOMEONE - Trish, Richard or whoever did not get security to nail this creep.
    Well spotted Marie!

  7. webb - I didn't mean to imply that the staff were ungrateful. They were very appreciative and wanted to give me something to say thank you.

    Paul - The guy escaped before anyone could lay a paw on him. They didn't see him walk off.

    Jane - still in shock :-)

    Ellen, I have no doubt about that that!

    Pam - lovely!(creak)

    Lyn, Richard wasn't there and I don't know Trish. But Security was called, at once, but went after the plants rather than the person, so time was lost. I do think he got a big skrik.

  8. Jislaaik and well done for not wanting to beat up security afterwards for being so useless. I mean going after the plants????? where's the logic, huh? I also applaud you for your restraint. My indignation would get the better of me, I know...."EXCUSE ME, what do you think you are you doing throwing plants over the fence? (loudly)". Hmpf - the cheek!

  9. The succulent thief and the lily thief have a common philosophy: What isn't nailed down is mine; what I can pry up isn't nailed down.

    Some of us couldn't sleep at night if we lived like that.

  10. That does take cheek - I'm guilty of liberating a cutting or two (sometimes with permission) but I would never take a whole plant. I guess that's the nature of the obsession...sigh.

  11. You could start a "Flora's Most Wanted" mugshot gallery -- for all those who might just recognize the back, shoulders and mullet shapes of these felons.

  12. It appears there are many people out there that can not help themselves and just have to steal. Since April I have constantly had people get over my fence [even by removing and cutting through the barbed wire] to steal plants. Only the most rare of course!!!!
    Gethyllis seedpods, albucas,bromeliads-neoregelia, They cut a huge chunk of staghorn fern - I could list many's heartbreaking knowing that knowledgeable people would do tis


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