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South Surrey bonsai master repeatedly targeted by thieves

VANCOUVER — They’re known as living art, and 71-year-old Tak Yamaura is the master. The South Surrey resident is world renowned for his bonsai trees, considered works of art the world over.

The artist’s oeuvres were supposed to be highlights of the B.C. Bonsai Society Show today in Langley, but like many masterpieces, his bonsai were targeted by thieves.

Yamaura’s store and acreage, South Surrey Japan Bonsai, was broken into this morning for the sixth time in just over a month. Thousands of dollars worth of his one-of-a-kind tree sculptures were taken, with the most valuable plants being targeted.

“He’s been raising them for 45 years…they’re his babies. It’s been really devastating,” Natalie Skye, Yamaura’s daughter, told Global News.

The plantings he’d prepared to take to the bonsai show were stolen, plantings that he’d grown from seeds for 45 years.

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“My best trees, my collection…it was very sad,” says Yamaura.

The trees were to be the highlight of the show today.

“People have come here for nine years to watch him do a demonstration, because he didn’t do the demo today it was very, very sad,” says Bryan Baillie of the B.C. Bonsai Society.

The criminals have been well-organized, targeting the most valuable works of art from the 10-acre property. The loss is estimated at $65,000, but for Yamaura and his family, it’s more personal than a financial figure.

“He doesn’t even put a price on it,” says Skye. “For us it’s been extremely heartbreaking, it’s very tragic. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this.”

–With files from Julia Foy.

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