Did This Man Steal Your Succulent?

Last week’s post about succulent theft prompted many Bernal residents to report that they too had been the victims of larcenous pruning. But who are the culprits? What kind of person steals plants from residential yards???

The guy shown above is a prime suspect. Reader X of the Bernalwood Intelligence Agency photographed this man shortly after he clipped a plant from a West Bernal yard last week. Our agent writes:

I witnessed this older man cutting succulents at the intersection of Coso, Montezuma and Mirabel 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 shawn.philips@sfgov.org

Photo: Reader X

45 thoughts on “Did This Man Steal Your Succulent?

  1. By the looks of what he has in his bucket, I’d say he sells the stuff to florists or has a booth at a local farmers market. Sorta looks like comedian Bill Dana.
    Up here in Santa Rosa there are a couple of people who come in and prune the shit out of blooming roses or budded flowering quince, never been busted. However their haul is sold at both the Sebastopol and Santa Rosa farmers markets.

  2. I think I know this guy. A couple of months ago I saw him dumping some of his trash on Eugenia and Bonview where I live…

  3. Another excellent investigation by the BIA. There’s no limit to what a concerned citizen with a smartphone can do!

  4. Last week someone stole a number of cucumber seedlings I’d just planted in my back yard, is there a pattern of petty vegetation thefts?

    (I think in my case it was probably the neighborhood rats and mice that I’ve initiated a pogrom against, so if anyone has suggestions for that other than the poison and traps I’ve been using I’d be interested in hearing it)

  5. The other person was definitely stealing the crowns of various succulents to start new plants.

    This man is not.

    Those are Agave leaves, you can’t start other plants with them.

    You can, however, layer them over charcoal in a roasting pit with lamb, beef, or goat and make delicious tacos.

    I wouldn’t prosecute, I would get in his good graces and see if he will invite you over for Barbacoa.

  6. Also, was this really taken from a “West Bernal yard”? That intersection has a planted public area. I don’t know if it’s tended by a city gardener or volunteer neighbors.

    • I’m an occasional gardener of the public strip on the downhill section of Coso between Winfield and Prospect, which I believe is the described location (although the man looks like he’s walking towards that piece of land and not away from it).

      I don’t remember seeing any agave leaves missing from that plot – so perhaps he picked them up somewhere else…. We do have a bunch of agave plants growing right on the Coso/Prospect – or at least they were there Sunday afternoon when I played “hack the wild fennel” game.

      Don’t know who else tends that strip – but someone has cleaned it up a few months back, and I doubt it was “magical city elves” – so big thanks to whomever put the work in!

  7. To Adam: please tell me your post about poisoning the rats and mice was hyperbole??? You’re not really setting poison out in your garden . . .

    • Joyce, I thought the same thing. Surely people aren’t using poisons in San Francisco. Of all places that should know better!

  8. Someone has been stealing succulents all up and down Ripley St. between Folsom and Alabama. The take them because they are easy to restart and sell. But they butcher to original plant. They hit are front garden so often we took out all succulents. So much for “farmers” market sellers.
    As for this particular thief, I think Erik’s observation that those are not the crowns of plants but leaves to be eaten. Still not nice, but we can’t pin the rest of the thefts on him without more evidence.

  9. Pingback: Our New Top Cop Provides Bernal Heights Crime Summary | Bernalwood

  10. May I just add that my jasmine plant was taken from a planter in front of my house this past weekend (june 18). I’m on Folsom between Precita and Ripley. I heard the guy do it, in the middle of the night. He is either nuts or has an accomplice, because he was talking to someone. I thought it was just random street noise, until I went out the next morning and saw the hole where my plant had been. Funny thing is that I had another jasmine plant in another planter, and he didn’t touch that one. I had a huckleberry plant taken and the other uprooted last year. Those things were expensive. I no longer plant expensive plants on the street. I replaced the jasmine with a $5 fern. Not ideal, but better than a hole.

    Plant thefts are SO FRUSTRATING! I’m just trying to beautify the street and my home! What’s going to happen when I put in my sidewalk gardens? Should I even bother?! Between the plant thefts and the kids at the school next door who randomly like to destroy my stuff, I think it might be an uphill battle to keep a sidewalk garden looking nice.

  11. We had several large lovely succulents cut out of our front yard planters earlier this year. We are on Nevada at Powhattan. I did not see who cut them (with very sharp, professional cutters) so I can’t positively identify this suspect. I was so mad that I called 311 and filed a police report. This is a good way to file a non-emergency police report over the phone. I think if they get enough of them, the police may start paying attention, who knows. Please continue to keep your eyes open. Appreciate it.

  12. 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. This has been occurring since the beginning of 2011, till most recently, about 2 weeks ago. 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. I suppose the part that is eating at us the most about this, is that this type of stealing, which rises to the level of vandalism to be frank, is not because one is desperate to find something to survive on….this is out of pure selfishness and wanting something that they “like”. Of course, we’re not attempting to justify one type of stealing over the other, but perhaps one could be more understandable than the other.

    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.

    • Joyce, this is MIke Aldax from the San Francisco Examiner. I’m trying to write a story about these rash of thefts. Very disturbing. Call me as soon as you can (415) 359-2836 if you wouldn’t mind talking about this. Sorry that the theft happened to you!

  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: Broderick.F.Elton@sfgov.org

    Good luck!

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

  15. Wow–what a bunch of snivelers—multitudes of hungry poor people out there and your complaining about some succulents being stolen—guess what—by moving into this neighborhood, you drove rental prices up–stop your whining. I also find it appalling that you posted this man’s picture–what are you the next Geraldo.

    • I’m born and raised in SF. It’s about stealing something you’ve put time and effort into you simpleton! Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean it’s not sentimental to another person. Yea, I’m biased because I’m a gardener but it’s not excuse for this petty theft. It’s not like they’re stealing food! I’ll make someone whine from pain if I catch them in the act of stealing one of rare Aeoniums.

  16. Dear Shawn

    I would like to presume that we, as a community, recognize that such events, in the greater scheme of the world, are extremely minor. That does not mean, however, that we cannot be frustrated and disappointed by them.

    Caring for our community does not make for social irresponsibility. Such generalizations are uninformed and serve no purpose but to inflame. I ask you not presume that our concerns over such thefts imply that we do, or do not, care about others. That would be equivalent to me presuming your lack of productive education. I find it curious that you are appalled that a contributor posted a picture of someone performing an illegal act. This is not a case of slander. As a community, we are simply sharing information to assist each other. If you truly cared about the less fortunate, as you claim, perhaps your time would be better spent helping them, instead of discussing our plant thefts.

    I hope that in the future, you will have the opportunity to be a responsible adult, live in a civil society, and perhaps, if you so choose, own a home. At that time, I hope you will patiently achieve more understanding of one’s pride in one’s home: something that I’ve worked very hard to come by, honestly.

    Joyce C.

  17. Joyce,

    Good for you. I’m glad you own a home. I also take pride in my home. Now look around your neighborhood and think to yourself–who doesn’t own a home. Take pride in your neighborhood by helping those that don’t have homes–this may be a better way to spend your day.

    • Questions for Joyce and Others:

      Do you want this man arrested?
      Do you think the police should spend there time looking for succulent bandits instead of focusing on other more serious crimes?
      Do you think journalists from the SF Chronicle should be focusing its stories on succulent thefts, rather than on poverty and racism?
      Do you think that poor people of color in the city have this much pull with cops and journalists?

    • Shawn:
      Your generalizations are wrong. I am a very poor person living in a downtown SRO that was drawn to this discussion because my own volunteer efforts to plant and water a few succulents in a small spot across the street have been set back by this same epidemic. The truth is there are many sorts planting and many sorts stealing. Your points about the bad effects of real estate speculation could stand on their own without condoning plant theft from the public domain. Also, by the way, succulents are drought tolerant which makes them ideal for public areas in San Francisco and this is a double tragedy as small careful cuttings could be taken in many cases without issue; if folks just want to propagate these delightful plants, all you need is one leaf.

  18. Again, Shawn, you presume more than you need. What color or race do you think I am? Or are you the one being racist to presume that only someone who is not a minority can chain together a cognizant thought?

    Your rants are just becoming tiring. Again, please spend your energies on being more productive, as your own preaching insists. Talk the talk, walk the walk.

    With sincere regards,

    • Hopefully you’ve mulled things over. And as far as the race thing is concerned–I never presumed what race you were—but I will guarantee that the majority of people complaining about their succulents being stolen- benefit from skin privilege. Take a look around the world (Somalia, Afghanistan, Sunnydale, East Oakland)–and ask yourself again–should you really be complaining about your little succulents. And just to let you know– I do think its a bummer that your succulents got stolen–but I also think you should think about what role you play in the suffering of others (I also do not exclude myself from the problem).

  19. Attention Neighbors

    I am Officer Broderick Elton #320 with San Francisco Police Department. I am investigating the series of plant thefts and damages.

    I suggest that anybody who has had their plants stolen or damaged to please file a report online via http://sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=778 , or call 311 to file the report over the phone. I am attempting to consolidate this information and follow leads generated by the community. Please forward any information on possible suspects and report numbers to me.

    I have spoken with several residents whom are going to assist in getting the word out to all the community regarding this issue. Flyers similar to this will be delivered to residents and made available at community meetings.

    Ingleside Police have been notified of this ongoing issue and are committed to helping resolve it.

    I have read the blogs and am currently investigating those leads.

    Could the individual who took the picture of a possible suspect known as; “Reader X” of the Bernalwood Intelligence Agency aka Todd Lappin please contact me.

    I may be contacted via email broderick.elton@sfgov.org

  20. Officer Broderick Elton,

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment in this thread, my jasmine plant was stolen from in front of my house some weeks ago. I did file a report online (the incident case number is 116076311). I’m not sure if it is related to the cases you are investigating or not, since my stolen plant was not a succulent.

    Thanks for taking this issue seriously.

  21. We had our HUGE succulents beheaded in our front yard about two months ago on the 3200 block of Harrison. I’d suggest a surveillance camera sting to catch the perp. There’s not enough evidence to sustain the burden with this guy!

  22. Pingback: Effort to Weed Out Bernal Succulent Thefts Gaining Ground | Bernalwood

  23. We live in Noe Valley and have been victimized twice by someone using a sharp blade to chop off the heads of our succulents. We finnally got so frustrated we removed them all.

  24. Pingback: True Crime! Video Shows Bernal Bandit Stealing Succulent | Bernalwood

  25. I’M SO GLAD I FOUND THIS SITE! The same thing has been happening in sunset. I had one small potted plant stolen a few months ago, and then a few days ago, they stole my beloved aloe pplant that has been growing so beautifully : ( . I mean this is in the sunset district!! What kind of ghetto jerk faces would do such a thing?? It wasn’t a small light plant either..a heavy potted one!someone should start an plant thief smart app and. Track the trails of these assholes!!

    • Are you kidding? I live in the sunset too. I’m offended you said “ghetto jerk face”, because no stereotypical ghetto person would steal a fucking plant. They are usually farmers or gardeners. Think before you speak.

  26. Pingback: Bernalwood Editor Writes for Some Newspaper in New York, Encourages You to Write for Bernalwood | Bernalwood

  27. I live in the Parkside district and have repeatedly been hit by a succulent thief. The total value of the theft is greater than $2000. Each time he decimates my garden. I’ve installed a video system to try to gain images. My next step is a private investigator.

    • We were just hit again! 3rd time this year! I amended my previous police report. If you get any new information, please post it, so that others can follow up.

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