Parks and playgrounds  |  19 Mar 2024

Security cameras at Mona Vale Garden Park have captured a woman on an electric scooter with a wheelie bin on the front to load stolen plants into.

Susan Lawrence with Botanic Gardens Collections Collector Ben Lay. Established plants were recently dug out and stolen from the Mona Vale rose garden.

It’s one of many brazen thefts at the park over the past six months that have been captured on camera. Bedding plants and annuals that are planted for the wider public to enjoy are being targeted, and even established plants such as roses, ferns and perennials have been dug out and stolen.

Susan Lawrence is a member of the Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Mona Vale sub-committee, which helps to lead guided tours and organises volunteers to help the staff.

“We wanted to highlight this growing problem as many locals will feel as deeply about it as we do. We love our involvement there and most of our customers are locals, which says something about how highly they regard the place.”  

Deputy Director Botanic Gardens and Mona Vale Nicky Brown says the repeated thefts were selfish and dispiriting for the volunteers and staff, who worked hard to keep the gardens looking beautiful for all to enjoy. It was also disappointing for visitors.

“We put new plants in, and they disappear overnight. In the spring, we had all our tulips stolen for the second year in a row, there were up to 150 stems being cut each night. The result is we’re no longer putting tulips in one bedding display because they’ve been repeatedly targeted. It’s blatant, there’s people coming through and helping themselves like they’re doing the shopping.”

Ms Brown says they need the public’s help to stop the thefts occurring.

“We’re extending a plea for people to come forward if they have any information which might help us identify possible offenders. We haven’t been able to identify the individuals from the footage thus far, and because there are no vehicles involved, we can’t trace a registration number. We’re asking the public to please let us know if they see or notice any suspicious behaviour.”

Anyone with information can get in touch via email