TORONTO – Standing on the sidewalk looking down at a patch of dirt in his Leslieville garden where three dahlia plants used to sit, Paul van Dongen reads from the note he posted on a stake so passersby could see.
“What kind of jerk steals other people’s plants right out of their garden? I hope that red fire ants infest your home and eat you alive.”
The graphic designer, a gardener in his spare time, reads the note with a smirk on his face.
Three weeks ago, someone stole a dahlia right out of his garden, leaving a hole in the dirt. That night he typed up the note and left it for the thief to see. So imagine his surprise when a few days later, another one of the pink plants disappeared.
After the second plant was stolen, van Dongen decided to take the third and final dahlia out of the ground and transfer it back to a pot. It now sits in the backyard where it’s not doing so well, because as van Dongen explains, the light isn’t as good.
For him, the theft of the flowers was “the last straw” after a particularly brutal winter.
“We finally got everything together, looking good, and then this happens.”
On Queen St. East, a number of business owners are also upset after they, too, have been targeted by flower thieves.
Cindy Wilkes, owner of the Brooklyn Tavern, says four daisy plants were stolen from a concrete flower box in front of her establishment.
The owner of Fuss Hair Studio also had some plants stolen that she’d planted to beautify the area.
“All the businesses along the row do their own flowers, show pride and make the street look nice,” said Stacey Lipstein.
Orchid Torbolinto-Omero says she caught a womanpulling a plant out of the flower box in front of her barber shop last week.
“I screamed and yelled at her and said:‘Hey you took my plants! And so she came back and I felt so sorry for her because she is holding [them]with a plastic bag and trying to return the flowers.”
Torbolinto-Omero has video surveillance showing the thief in action. She can’t explain why she let the woman go without calling police.
Van Dongen isn’t sure if he’ll ever see his stolen dahlias again, though he says three years ago, the very same thing happened, and that time, he got revenge.
He found his flowers planted up the street in someone else’s garden.
“And it was absolutely ours, so later that night we came back and stole it back.”
He plans to leave the note in his garden all summer as a reminder to whomever stole his plants that he hasn’t forgotten what happened.
© Shaw Media, 2014