Bernal Succulent Thief Really Sucks

Keep an eye on your yards, everyone. A western slope resident reports that someone recently hacked off a number of the large succulents she had been lovingly tending in her front yard for the past five years.

“This reminded me of when I lived in the Mission and my next-door neighbors had chained and padlocked their front doormat to their house,” she said. “I can relate now.”

It’s not the first time Bernalwood has been hit by larcenous pruning. Seven months ago, flyers were posted around the neighborhood by another horticulturist victim. As Joe Eskenazi reported in SF Weekly’s blog The Snitch, Ingleside Police Station Captain Louis Cassenego noted succulent thefts in both Bernal and the Excelsior in his “Captain’s Message” to the public:

“If you see a stranger in your or your neighbor’s front yard in the middle of the night, it would be advisable to call the police and have an officer check it out,” writes Cassanego. “Many residents take pride in their yards and put in many hours of hard work, so let’s help them out.”

Still true now.

PHOTO: Bronwyn Ximm

30 thoughts on “Bernal Succulent Thief Really Sucks

  1. Uh oh. I think I saw the scattered remains of that plant this morning at the top of the Kingston steps as I was walking the dog.

    What a drag!

  2. Perdition to these succulent swiping scoundrels. Grow your own, it’s half the fun.

  3. Had the same thing happen to me–beheaded succulents in pots on Southern part of Bernal-Crescent Avenue-have no idea why someone would do this.

    • Sorry to hear that, Amy!

      It is strange — I mean, how much money can these things really fetch? I haven’t tried it yet, but maybe a Craigslist search would shed some light on it.

  4. I caught a woman digging bulbs out of my frontyard in broad daylight. And my Buddha found legs as well. Pretty bad karma I would think.

    • Me too. Either that or a harsh exercise in non-attachment. (But in any case, that sucks!)

  5. i lived on cortland and coleridge last year and had a small japanese maple in a pot stolen from the front steps. who does this?

  6. Indeed. Two blocks of Guerrero medians, Guerrero Park and adjoining sidewalk gardens robbed of aeoniums. All neatly cut off by someone who left the “pups” -a professional. Really sad that a community effort to make our neighborhood more livable is being plundered for personal gain.

  7. I had been on the search for succulents on Craigslist several months ago, when I came upon an angry ad from a Bernalwood resident cursing their succulent thief. It was certainly amusing that someone took the trouble to scold a thief on Craigslist, but also very disturbing.

  8. This happened to our neighbor, too, on Prospect. He had signs up offering a reward for identifying the thieves. He said that whoever is taking them used a pretty technical means for removal, requiring a special tool, and clearly knew what they were doing/planned to resell. I’ll have to ask him if it still going on. I think it was about a year ago that he posted the signs.

  9. This happened to 8 of our aeoniums too, on the 00 block of Winfield St. at the end of Sept., 2010. Also happened to a neighbor on Esmeralda, between Elsie and Winfield before then.

    I just (6/3) witnessed an older man cutting succulents at the intersection of Coso, Montezuma and Marabel at 8:50am. I asked him to stop, took his photo and watched him walk home to a yellow 4 story apt building on Cesar Chavez, 4 buildings east of Mission and next to the red building with the “chicken john” mural. Provided all this info to the Ingelside police station but they refused to send a car and after 20 minutes finally gave me an email address so I could send the photo. Said they would look into it starting on Monday!

    If you have any other info about the thefts please call Ingelside at 404-4000 and email Inspector Philips at

    • Do you still have this photo? A new officer has been assigned specifically to this case and asked me for photos of any suspects today. This has been a recurring problem at our community garden at Gates and Powhattan and my friend on Anderson street has had her Aeoniums stolen twice. This is getting so annoying…….

  10. I haven’t had any succulents stolen, but for the past 4 years someone has been watching my jasmine plant, waiting til it’s in full bloom, then cuts off EVERY blossom. It’s a pretty large bush and people pick sprigs off all the time (which I don’t mind at all) but to have every blossom removed (and most of the new buds) is just so sad.

  11. Is it ridiculous that if you simply do a google search using “stealing succulents”, our Bernal Heights thefts come up as the SECOND LISTING?

    Since the beginning of this year, we also have had large succulents and flowers cut out of our front yard, as well as aeoniums lopped off, or more recently, pulled out with their roots, from our front yard, and our front porch pots. We are on College Avenue in St. Mary’s Park, Bernal Heights. We understand that in the large scheme of things, this seems small and uneventful, but that does not seem to abate our frustration at the HACKING that is occurring.

    We just want to beautify our home, to show pride in it, our neighborhood and our community. Thus, these kinds of activities are very disheartening. My husband is now so angry by this that he’s forcing the proposition of moving all “desirable” plants to the backyard….what a shame….

  12. LOL, I am the disturbed person who scolded the thief on Craig’s List. You should have seen the signs I put up in my yard. I was super pissed. They stole my most prized Pink/Yellow Aeonium. It was my favorite plant. They also took the heads off some chocolate ones I had too.
    They seem to go after the chocolate and the pink/yellow ones.
    My neighbor has actually gotten a visual on two different people doing this, and believe it or not the police are actually aware of the situation and are doing a little detective work as part of a community out reach program.
    Sorry your plants got stolen, however the nice thing about them is they grow back pretty fast.

  13. Yesterday we got a visit from a very nice police officer regarding our thefts that I posted about earlier. Indeed, they are taking this very seriously, and I notified them about this website’s postings. Officer Elton explained the process of how things may move forward. Any information you can provide to them would be most helpful. He is fully expecting to be inundated with information from all of you. You can contact him at his email address:

    Good luck!

  14. Pingback: SF Police Investigating Bernal Heights Plant, Garden Thefts | Bernalwood

  15. I lived in bernal height most of my life alabama st montclam st i always look out my windows outside but i don’t know my nieghbors anymore who coming /going anymore also nobody seem to be friendly , i will say i try to be more observant more and look out too thanks for this website i will follow it .

  16. If anybody needs replacement plants we usually have a giveaway pile of various succulent trimmings in our driveway @ 311 Mullen. Anything on the ground is fair game!

  17. It’s the same story in Noe Valley. All of our succulents hacked off. We’ve moved anything worth ripping off to the back (fenced) yard. We can only grow crappy stuff that no one wants in the front. Some of the thieves could also be suppliers that sell to vendors at the flower market. Succulents have become very popular for floral work and there is always a steady supply available there. When our succulents were stollen, they must have taken about 100 pounds of them and we could see from all of the broken leaves where they had dragged them across the road into a pile obviously to load into their vehicle. I would LOVE to get my hands on these people.

  18. They chopped off my best looking Aeoniums – It’s the third time now! I’ve still angry about it.

    Going to be setting up a camera – I’m not worrying about my neighbors privacy.

  19. when i arrived at my community plot at miller memorial grove on saturday (east slope), i noticed many things amiss. some plants in community areas were removed, my neighbor’s artichokes were stolen, and my herb garden had been destroyed. when i went there on sunday, there were reports that a “crazy woman” had been spotted in the garden there during the week, and that she’d had a bunch of flowers and plant cutting splayed across a community table. not sure if this is related….

  20. Pingback: Oh No! After Long Hiatus, Succulent Thieves Strike Again! | Bernalwood

  21. Documenting that the problem has now spread to the Inner Sunset District. Entire plants in full bloom have been taken, along with decorative pots containing plants, and someone obviously scoped out a large succulent in a front-yard garden, brought their pruning shears, took a few bit pieces–leaving gaping holes in the remaining plant–and apparently drove away with those cuttings earlier this week (similar to what Ken described in his posting on 7/15/2011). If anyone is having success in curtailing the problem, would love to collaborate so we can protect what we’re all attempting to build in our communities; funny thing is, some of us would willingly share cuttings or engage in exchanges if we were asked.

  22. Is still happening in the mission. We have about a dozen planters & pots with succulents and peppers on top of our garage in front of our home.

    Over the past 6 months, 3 plants have been stolen from our property – 2 large (~50lb) ceramic planters with about 6 succulents each, all handcrafted. One we saw the thief (an older white man with a beard, knit cap, shopping cart. he ditched the planter in a nearby sewer, which we found while walking the neighborhood later). The other we did not. This week, a brazen thief climbed on our garage during the day and dug up (and stole) a mid-size dwarf meyer lemon tree with about a dozen fruits on it.

    Disgusting. Some animals cannot live as part of a community. I give the first thief a pass (a crime of opportunity, or the result of mental illness or desparation) – but to dig up and steal a 3-year-old tree is really so blatantly antisocial, self-centered, and greedy.

  23. Sorry to hear about the latest theft in the Mission District. We seem to have reduced the problem a bit in the Inner Sunset District by taking several steps: making our local Police Department contacts aware of the extent of the problem, contacting our City/County Supervisor to call attention to it, face-to-face discussions with neighbors to create greater awareness of the thefts, a brief item in our neighborhood newspaper, and even working with our local neighborhood association to include information (and a photo of one thief captured in action by a neighbor’s video camera) in the association’s newsletter. Vigilance as well as literally shining light on the thefts through the use of sensor lighting has helped; hope that your own posting provides some positive results by making thieves aware that they are being watched.

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