NEW ORLEANS -- Tuesday, four olive trees were reported stolen, uprooted right from the ground from South Prieur, and General Taylor. Just two blocks down, the same thing had happened to Karen Chustz's magnolia trees.
"One day I'm picking up trash something looks different, and I see a huge hole," Chustz's said. "So somebody had stolen three of my trees right out of the ground and left two."
Angered, she gave the other plants to neighbors so thieves wouldn't have a chance to finish the job.
"At the time they had been planted for a year and a half, and so they were so so high," she said.
Of course, some might say, they're just plants, it's not a big deal. Owners like Chustz say they're still personal property and they mean something.
"These little trees make a great flower; they're very fragrant, so that was just gone," Chustz said. "He tried to destroy that sense of beauty I was creating."
Who took the trees is a mystery. Chustz's camera missed the crime, but a neighbor told her of a man on a bike carting off trees.
"There are different theories," Chustz said. "Is it that people are hired for landscape jobs and paid to install certain materials and instead of going out and buying that material they steal it?"
Chustz reported the crime to police, but doubts she'll get her plants back. She's found support with other neighbors who've also lost plants within the past few months.
"Well, you can't actually lock it down like chains and locks," said Kenny Rabalais owner of The Plant Gallery.
You can make trees harder to steal with stakes though.
"It's much much harder to take all of the tying off and take the tree up then just a lonely tree," Rabalais explained.
And once trees have developed mature roots, over 2-to-3 years, they would also be harder to rip out.
"But if it's the same person doing this and taking other trees or plant material constantly then it could be a significant amount of money that's being stolen," questioned Chustz.
The neighbors around her say they'll continue digging for surveillance video, in the meantime the theft won't deter them from using their green thumbs.
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