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Plant Thieves

  • Subject: [ferns] Plant Thieves
  • From: "Dean Ouer" d.ouer@cox.net
  • Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 10:51:41 -0700

Plant thefts should not be tolerated. We all need to band together to
demonstrate such behavoir will not suceed. Below is a email from a large palm
and cycad nursery in Southern California.

Another robbery of cycads!  I found the nursery on the internet:
(From Hermine's BambooGrove list)
It disappoints me to announce that on Sunday evening, June 15, our nursery
(Jungle Music) was robbed of approximately 17 large, rare cycads. The stolen
plants were mature specimens, many of which we have been growing for over
years. I am writing this announcement in hopes that someone may be able to
give us information about suspicious owners or sellers of the cycads
below. I am offering a $5000 cash award for information that leads to the
recovery of the stolen plants and arrest and conviction of the criminal(s)
took the plants. I thank you for your time in reading this posting and hope
that you pass word of this crime on to others.

The description of the crime is very similar to that described in the recent
posts from other collectors who have been robbed recently and by the staff
Quail Botanical Gardens, which was robbed about 2 months ago. Our plants
stolen at night, on a Sunday evening, sometime between dusk and dawn. The
plants were hastily ripped out of 24 inch boxes, dragged to the perimeter
thrown over the fence, and then put into an escape vehicle. The robbery
occurred in Encinitas, CA where our nursery is located. There were no torn
or cut
leaves left behind.

Police have made a half-day investigation and do have fingerprints. They
suggested to us that we utilize the Internet to get the word out and make
it so
uncomfortable for the criminals to either keep or sell the plants that
hopefully this will lead to the return of the stolen material. Some of
these plants
are easily identified and would definitely stand out in a collection.

All the plants are large. The majority were blue species of Encephalartos.
One plant, a three-foot tall Encephalartos princeps, has a noticeable
narrowing in the central trunk half way up. Multiple large Encephalartos
were stolen, all basketball size or larger. Another plant was Dioon
Merolae with
2 feet of trunk. Another plant was a Macrozamia moorei of about 16 inch
caudex with noticeable caudex burn at the base. This plant is similar to
those at
Maurice Levin's nursery and are unmistakable. Its leaves are just emerging
about 6 inches as it has been recently reestablishing roots. I am listing
plants presently so people will know what has been taken and perhaps help us

1. Macrozamia moorei: 16 to 18 inch caudex, newly emerging leaves, no
established leaves, burnt base to caudex.
2. Dioon edule, type angustifolia: 12-16 inch caudex rough with old cut
closely but still-retained leave bases , somewhat floppy leaves. Full head
approximately 10-15 leaves.
3. Encephalartos princeps: approx. 30 to 36 inch tall caudex, diameter
8-1nches, slightly tapered mid-trunk, holding about 10 leaves about 2 feet
4. Encephalartos horridus, blue in color, 12 inch caudex
5. Dioon merolae, 2 feet of trunk, holding a full head of leaves
6. Encephalartos horridus, size approximately 15 inches, blue leaves
7. Encephalartos horridus, size 17 inches, blue leaves
8. Encephalartos horridus, size 10-13 inches, blue leaves
9. Encephalartos arenarius, size 10 inches
10. Encephalartos transvenosus, approx. size 4 inches
11. Encephalartos longifolius, approx. 15 inch caudex
12. Encephalartos lehmanii, approximately 10 inches
13. Encephalartos trispinosus, size approx. 12 inches
14. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain; can't be sure what was stolen, just empty
box with torn roots)
15. Encephartos sp. (uncertain, as above)
16. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain, as above)
17. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain, as above)

Note: on these last 4 plants, we think one was an arenarius, but can't be
sure. All were estimated 10 inch caudexes or larger. Working with the
we do have the means to identify our plants if they are spotted.

What we know so far about this crime is that:
1. The criminals knew what they were looking for. They jumped around our
stock picking their targets, mostly looking for blue Encephalartos. They
by other green species.
2. It appears to have been more than one person. It was too much work for
one person.
3. They have stolen many plants which can be identified by us (and you)
including the Dioon merolae, the E. princeps, the Macrozamia and the Dioon
We very much remember the exact appearance of these plants.
4. Fingerprints were obtained.
5. The plants are either being sold to some unscrupulous collector who is
willing to buy stolen plants or are being paid by an equally despicable
person who hires others to commit his crimes.

So, please help us and stop this rampant disregard for personal property and
the law. Contact us, even anonymously, if you have any information. We don't
know for sure if the final person getting our plants actually was the once
committing the crime or if he had others do it. Therefore, things to watch
that could tickle your suspicion might be:

1. Someone who offers to sell the plants above.
2. Someone who has recently obtained plants similar to above under any
circumstances, either in their collection or for sale.
3. Someone who sells plants out of the containers, perhaps saying "they are
easier to move around barefoot".
4. Someone who tells you their "new" plants came from a "personal source"
but they can't really tell you where they got them.
5. Someone who has lots of rare cycads but doesn't really go to nurseries.
6. Someone who says he "just imported" the plants above. One cannot import
this sized plants nowadays.
7. Someone who likes plants being brought to them and has said they will buy
plants if you bring them to them (buyer of stolen plants).
8. Or, someone who likes to take plants (bare rooted) to potential buyers
and doesn't have a nursery themselves.
9. Someone affiliated with the nursery trade who has knowledge of cycads and
seems to "come up with good plants" but doesn't have his own nursery or
you can go see any time.
10. Someone who seems to come up with "amazing" deals on cycads, especially
Encephalartos. The "too good to be true" scenario comes from the fact that
seller didn't pay for them!
11. Someone who likes to pay for his plants with cash (no record) or will
only take cash if you wish to buy them from him (no record).
12. Someone who has plants that are "rooting out" and can't say where they
got them.
13. Someone who has large plants like these and says they are from a
collection". Or, that he "just got some rare cycads in" and is vague about
the source.
14. Someone who has large plants and the leaves are droopy or unsightly or
looking bad, or recently removed (remember, the roots have been torn and the
leaves will go downhill)
15. Someone who offers to sell plants and can't give CITES documents or
where he got them.
16. Someone who has plants or tries to sell plants and really doesn't know
what he has; perhaps he just says "they are rare".
17. Someone who is a little confused about the species of the plants he is
selling or just bought and "lost the labels" and tries to get you to
18. Someone who is selling such plants as above and doesn't have a
nursery business.
19. Someone who boasts about a collection that is apparently beyond his
to obtain.
20. Someone who's collection is growing by leaps and bounds but never really
goes to nurseries to buy.
21. Someone who is real secretive about his plants and seems to get plants
from obscure sources.
22. Someone who frequents nurseries always looking, never buying, and then
suddenly has a lot of expensive plants.
23. Someone who has access to manual labor (i.e. business that utilizes
manual labor) to do his dirty work.
24. Someone who just obtained any blue Encephalartos with close to 3 feet of

Of course, a lot of the "clues" above are conjecture, but perhaps this might
stimulate you into thinking of tips that could help us. We do need your
help. And yes, we are offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the
return of these plants and prosecution/conviction of the criminal(s).

Perhaps you might think that a nursery can absorb such losses as we suffered
last night. This is not true. We, like you, work hard for our living and
many of these plants we had been growing for over a decade. It is not fair
thieves can get away with this. It is not fare that cycad enthusiasts and
nurserymen must worry every night about someone taking their prized
plants. This
criminal knew where the plants were in our nursery. Perhaps he came to our
nursery to "case us out". He may have been to your nursery or house as well.
Help us catch him. He will strike again. If you know who it is, have him
contact us anonymously and we will accept back the plants without question.

Please feel free to contact me privately with any leads. And, tell you
friends about this so that so many people know that it will be unbearable
for such
a thief to keep stolen plants. As all of us worked with Quail Botanical
Garden and other private collectors during their losses, I ask your help on
occasion. . And, thank you again.


Phil Bergman
Owner, Jungle Music Palms and Cycads
Phone: 619 291 4605
Fax: 619 574 1595
email: palmNcycad@AOL.com

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