1988 – The Case Of The Hijacked Hibiscus

  Replica of victim

Reporting from the St Louis Metro police blotter back in September of 1988, the Post-Dispatch related a case from the mean streets of Lafayette Square. This is a summary from two articles by Bill Bryan of the P-D Staff.

Jerry Patterson, who lived on the 2000 block of Lafayette Avenue, phoned the police to report the apparent theft of a hibiscus tree from his back yard.

Officers responding to the call scoured the crime scene, determining that the hibiscus in question may have been anemic, dropping its telltale dead leaves and marking the trail probably taken by a thief. They followed this trail to a residence in the 1700 block of Nicholson Place.

Returning later with a search warrant, officers entered the suspected home and seized a hibiscus tree. They also discovered reason to believe this was not an isolated plant-napping, as they recovered seven other exotic house plants and some lawn ornaments.

Sgt. Tim McEntee, investigator on the scene commented, “All the plants we seized have long names. We believe they were stolen from plant lovers in the Lafayette area, but nobody except the hibiscus owner has come forward”.

Police then began a search for the occupant of the apartment. They turned up a 29-year old male who was charged with four counts of misdemeanor theft. He admitted his involvement in the theft of plants from our neighborhood, which the Post characterized as “an enclave for young urban professionals”

It was thought the apprehended man may have been the ringleader of a larger gang. He said others were involved, as he pointed out sites in the Square where plants had been stolen.

So, but for the trail the perpetrator left behind, they might have been at it yet today. The Post Dispatch created a nice headline to accompany the story:

CRIME BLOOMS IN LAND OF YUPPIES WITH THEFT OF EXOTIC PLANTS

“Land of yuppies”? Is the implication that the hibiscuses of Webster Groves  with its mature demographic were better protected from the pilfering of potted plants than here in the Square? At least back in 1988, we were considered by the Post to be on the upscale bounce. Quite nice progress to report, in contrast to years before, when folks were making off wholesale with our cars and air conditioners.

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