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local klepto

Posted by noinwi z3/4 (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 9, 06 at 11:56

So I'm out in the raised bed trying to get my peppers and tomatoes planted, which hasn't been easy as I have health problems, when a neighbor who has been gardening in the area for years tells me the local klepto is on the prowl. I'm looking at her like "huh?". She tells me that an elderly woman cruises the neighborhood during the wee hours of the morning and steals the fruits of everyone's labor, and that she has lost her harvest to this woman many times. She literally strips the plants and then sells the produce. Apparently everyone knows her(it's a very small town) and what she does, but she goes unpunished because she's "ill". She even steals from the local stores, has stolen plants and flowers from the cemetery and still nothing is done. This is very disturbing to me. I've spent months starting my plants from seed, cleaning out the raised bed, hardening off my babies, and can't stand the thought of some wacko, elderly or not, cleaning me out. Upon hearing her description, I actually remembered seeing this woman drive by slowly while I was out planting. I didn't have any problems last year, but my plants were pathetic to begin with and I only had a few. This year I've gone through a lot of trouble to do things right so I would have enough to share with the other tenents in the building, as most are disabled or elderly(but they don't go around stealing things). I can't see the garden from our apartment and I'm feeling really discouraged. What would you do in a situation like this? And thank you for letting me vent.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: local klepto

I don't grow veggies but have a neighbor who does. He was forced to put a camera up. He caught the person.

You have to have *proof* if you go to the police with an accusation. Even if you *know* who did it.

I suppose you can't put a cage/fence up in an apartment complex. And it is illegal to set booby traps. (Too bad.)

Maybe ask your other apartment dwelling neighbors to help keep an eye on things?? If they are elderly, they are probably there most of the time. You said you would be sharing the harvest with them, right? They would probably be glad to help watch the garden and keep someone from stealing *their* veggies.

I don't know if you would be allowed to put cameras up in an apartment complex. You would have to ask the owner.

I feel for you. I have had my flowers DUG UP and stolen. I've also had my lawn ornaments stolen. Expensive ones. One cement gargoyl that was stolen cost $380 and only lasted four days! Grrrr. It had to be a two person job too. It weighed a lot.

I even had my Madonna stolen! Who steals a religous icon?? I can only imagine the heartache of having one's veggies all harvested.


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RE: local klepto

I'm sorry about your lawn ornaments. I do know how it feels to have things stolen from under one's nose, but never one as expensive as your gargoyle. We moved here from an area with a lot of vandalism. You couldn't have anything in your yard unless you had it fenced, and then sometimes that didn't help. Fortunately, we've always had a dog or two patrolling the yard and that did help. We are in a decent neighborhood now, most people feel at ease leaving their things outside. There are hardly any fences, which still amazes me. I know that this thieving woman is not the norm, but it still freaks me out that I saw her the same day I was warned about her. Our garden is right on the street, so I'm going to ask the manager if I can put up a temporary fence around it. It is a raised bed that's about knee high, so I would think that a lightweight 4' or even a 3' wire fence should keep out an elderly woman(at least I know who I'm dealing with). She may be able to grab what she can reach through the fence, but unless she carried bolt cutters with her, she wouldn't be able to get through a locked gate. I'll start planting my favorites toward the center of the bed. The neighbor that told me about her is thinking about setting up a motion triggered camera. Thank you for responding. It helps me to reason things out and plan what to do.


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RE: local klepto

Get her name, put it on a sign in your garden in big bold letters, and say NOT ALLOWED. Maybe seeing her name in print will spook her a bit.


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RE: local klepto

If she's as mental as I hear, she'd probably think it was an invite!


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RE: local klepto

Okay-this sounds mean, but it creates a funny picture...motion-sensor sprinkler system ;)


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RE: local klepto

Putzer, that's actually a good idea...but I wouldn't be allowed to keep a hose stretched across the walk, or keep the water turned on all night. But yes, that would make one wet old lady! LOL!


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RE: local klepto

Why not just confront the woman if you are 100% certain she is stealing and selling garden produce?

If I was 100% certain I would simply get her alone and inform her that if a single fruit went unaccounted for I would cut her into pieces and make her watch as I dismembered her pets and any surviving family.

Sure, absolutely horrible and I would never actually do it, but crazy people need to have firm, absolute boundaries set.

There is no reasoning with them so you have to communicate on a very primitive level. Threats of extreme violence are at that very primitive level.

Please understand I am in no way advocating violence. Just the threat of it and only because it sounds like she is crazy and requires this form of communication to be 'reached'.


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RE: local klepto

HUH????


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RE: local klepto

noinwi,

My point is that when dealing with a crazy person you can't reason using higher brain function concepts like empathy, compassion, justice or any such thing.

Such people only respond to lower level reason. Fear of violence/pain is a powerful lower level brain function.

If you cause crazy lady to associate stealing from you with intense pain and suffering, she probably won't steal from you.

I get that what I am saying is controversial so if it bothers you, don't do it.

Also please be clear I am not advocating you harm this person in any way.

I am simply suggesting a means of effectively communicating with a crazy person.


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RE: local klepto

I've gotta say I'm with username on this one. If that's too harsh of an approach you could try something along the lines of a very firm "Listen, I put a lot of work into my garden to grow things for myself and the people I choose (emphasize that) to share them with. I know what you do and if I catch you touching anything in there I will have you arrested immediately.


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RE: local klepto

Honestly, I would put one of those motion detector water sprayers out by your garden that are used to deter deer. It's harmless, and if its scares her from stealing from your and others' gardens, then you've done a service to your community.


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RE: local klepto

I understand what you're saying, Username, but if she's crazy, or senile, she probably wouldn't remember the threat. She's stolen from the local grocery store, I hear, on a regular basis, but the authorities haven't done anything about it. She does her garden raiding in the middle of the night. I don't know all the details, but the neighbor that warned me about her was very frustrated that she couldn't catch her in the act and is thinking of getting a motion triggered camera. I'm not allowed to have a hose stretched across the walkway here, or leave the water turned on all night, or the motion sensor sprinkler would be ideal IMO. If the manager will let me put up a temporary fence, I believe that should deter her. The raised bed is 18" high already, so a 3' or 4' fence on top of that would be difficult to climb over unless she's in incredible shape for her age(or unless she carries wire cutters around with her). As you can see in the picture, the RR ties are old and not very stable, so I don't think it would be easy for her to get into with a fence on it. I do appreciate all your suggestions.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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RE: local klepto

Hmmmm...methinks she is not TOO crazy or senile if she is "with it" enough to be raiding gardens in the wee hours. She has to scope out her victim's gardens during daylight and remember where to go at night...and then, sell the loot! I am thinking of something very cool. I had a friend who lived in the country who had a motion sensor camera. Her son used to set it up out on their property by a deer feed place and I laughed my butt off looking at all of those pics of startled deer and racoon faces as the flash went off! Maybe you could put up a motion sensored flash that would startle her...she'd probably think that paparrazzi were stalking her and preserving her evil acts on film!


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RE: local klepto

The only problem with that, is the deer would just run away, where a person might try to steal or destroy the camera. That could get expensive. But still, it's a good idea.


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RE: local klepto

Yeah, but I'm betting she'd plain old panic and head for the hills, LOL! I would just put a flash device out, not a camera...that WOULD get expensive. Good luck...


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RE: local klepto

How about a motion sensor dog. Might scare her off.

get together some sort of neighborhood garden watch to catch her in the act.

Sign out "smile your on camera". Doesn't mean you are, doesn't mean your not, either. Might make her think twice though about taking something. Same true with "Beware of Dog" sign.

Good Luck.


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RE: local klepto

Threatening her would be cruel and could backfire. Fencing is more humane than spraying her with water. I doubt she has wire cutters or would even have the strength to cut the wire.

It would be interesting to know where she lives and what her living conditions are like. Could it be that she isn't as crazy as people think? Maybe she doesn't have enough money to live on and stealing is her means of survival. There isn't always assistance for needy people in small towns, even large ones for that matter, so it's possible that she will starve unless she steals.

If she is mentally ill, there must be a priest or doctor in town who is aware of her situation. If no one really knows who she is, and what her situation is... then... that is just sad, but not surprising. Our society isn't the kindest to our elderly.

I have a hard time believing that she is doing this for kicks or out of spite, or whatever, but who knows.


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RE: local klepto

The original post said that she is driving, so she must not be so poor that she is starving. She may just be an old fashioned kleptomaniac, who enjoys the adrenaline rush from stealing and thinks that stealing garden produce is not so bad crime.

In my mind people should confront her and tell that she will be watched over and matter will be taken to police, if she does not stop stealing.


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RE: local klepto

I would lie in wait for her, but that's just me :0

Camping is fun.


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RE: local klepto

Hi,
I like Elvis's Idea (Hi Con). Is there a way you could put the tent around the corner of the building so she wouldn't see it? Of course you would have to sleep outside quite a few nights if she isn't doing it every night. We did this one time when I was a kid and someone was throwing apples, rotten tomatoes and the like in the pool. The funny thing is I ended up marrying the culprit when I got older. In any case staying up all night to catch them was a lot of fun. I like Daddylongleg's idea too, maybe if you could get her name and put it on the sign in your garden(and have the neighbors and other possible "hit sights" around town do it too) she might get paranoid that people were "on to her" and stop doing it.
Catrina


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RE: local klepto

Well I didn't have any problems with the thief after all. The bad hailstorm we had in the beginning of August hammered most of the local gardens and did a lot of damage. Afterward, my tomatoes looked like garbage and not very tempting for a long time. I didn't get any decent ones until mid-September. I guess she must have gone elsewhere for her produce. I've decided to plant a just few toms in containers next year and forgo the stress. Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.


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RE: local klepto

hi...

is she someone who could be coerced into sharing duties with the garden....

then sharing the produce???...

just a thought...

jill


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RE: local klepto

Jill,
It is a nice thought, but she is an elderly woman with a 'problem'. She steals...not just produce from neighbors' gardens(which she sells), but from the local grocer, and even from the cemetery. The community just puts up with her...I guess that's all they can do. I just plan to make my garden less accessible next year. Prevention is the best medicine.


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