FWD : Another cycad robbery (long)

Paul Tyerman ptyerman@ozemail.com.au
Tue, 17 Jun 2003 18:03:28 PDT
Howdy All,

I realise that this is a little off-topic as these technically are not
bulbous, but I thought that given we are all gardeners and many of us are
nurserymen with extended collections of rare plants it was worth posting on
to you.  I know that a lot of us collect far more than bulbs and have links
with knowledgeable collectors who may be able to keep an eye ouot for
plants newly on the market.

This came to Aroid-L overnight (my time) announcing that there had been yet
another robbery of mature Cycads from a nursery or institution.  From
memory the Quail Bot Gds got the majority of their back because the word
was spread effectively and they could no longer be sold.  Hopefully by
sending this here we may be able to help stop these being unloaded as well.

Could the moderators please let me know if forwarding a message like this
should not be done to this list?  I think it is important enough, but I
just want to make sure it is OK.  It may be on the other side of the world
from me (figuratively) but it still affects us all as perpetuation of this
sort of crime just makes plants rarer and rarer and harder to obtain by
those of us who are legitimate collectors.

Thank You.

Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia

>Another robbery of cycads!  I found the nursery on the internet:
>(From Hermine's BambooGrove list)
>It disappoints me to announce that on Sunday evening, June 15, our nursery
>(Jungle Music) was robbed of approximately 17 large, rare cycads. The stolen
>plants were mature specimens, many of which we have been growing for over 
>years. I am writing this announcement in hopes that someone may be able to
>give us information about suspicious owners or sellers of the cycads
>below. I am offering a $5000 cash award for information that leads to the
>recovery of the stolen plants and arrest and conviction of the criminal(s)
>took the plants. I thank you for your time in reading this posting and hope
>that you pass word of this crime on to others.
>The description of the crime is very similar to that described in the recent
>posts from other collectors who have been robbed recently and by the staff
>Quail Botanical Gardens, which was robbed about 2 months ago. Our plants
>stolen at night, on a Sunday evening, sometime between dusk and dawn. The
>plants were hastily ripped out of 24 inch boxes, dragged to the perimeter 
>thrown over the fence, and then put into an escape vehicle. The robbery
>occurred in Encinitas, CA where our nursery is located. There were no torn 
>or cut
>leaves left behind.
>Police have made a half-day investigation and do have fingerprints. They
>suggested to us that we utilize the Internet to get the word out and make 
>it so
>uncomfortable for the criminals to either keep or sell the plants that
>hopefully this will lead to the return of the stolen material. Some of 
>these plants
>are easily identified and would definitely stand out in a collection.
>All the plants are large. The majority were blue species of Encephalartos.
>One plant, a three-foot tall Encephalartos princeps, has a noticeable
>narrowing in the central trunk half way up. Multiple large Encephalartos 
>were stolen, all basketball size or larger. Another plant was Dioon 
>Merolae with
>2 feet of trunk. Another plant was a Macrozamia moorei of about 16 inch
>caudex with noticeable caudex burn at the base. This plant is similar to 
>those at
>Maurice Levin's nursery and are unmistakable. Its leaves are just emerging
>about 6 inches as it has been recently reestablishing roots. I am listing
>plants presently so people will know what has been taken and perhaps help us
>1. Macrozamia moorei: 16 to 18 inch caudex, newly emerging leaves, no
>established leaves, burnt base to caudex.
>2. Dioon edule, type angustifolia: 12-16 inch caudex rough with old cut
>closely but still-retained leave bases , somewhat floppy leaves. Full head
>approximately 10-15 leaves.
>3. Encephalartos princeps: approx. 30 to 36 inch tall caudex, diameter
>8-1nches, slightly tapered mid-trunk, holding about 10 leaves about 2 feet 
>4. Encephalartos horridus, blue in color, 12 inch caudex
>5. Dioon merolae, 2 feet of trunk, holding a full head of leaves
>6. Encephalartos horridus, size approximately 15 inches, blue leaves
>7. Encephalartos horridus, size 17 inches, blue leaves
>8. Encephalartos horridus, size 10-13 inches, blue leaves
>9. Encephalartos arenarius, size 10 inches
>10. Encephalartos transvenosus, approx. size 4 inches
>11. Encephalartos longifolius, approx. 15 inch caudex
>12. Encephalartos lehmanii, approximately 10 inches
>13. Encephalartos trispinosus, size approx. 12 inches
>14. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain; can't be sure what was stolen, just empty
>box with torn roots)
>15. Encephartos sp. (uncertain, as above)
>16. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain, as above)
>17. Encephalartos sp. (uncertain, as above)
>Note: on these last 4 plants, we think one was an arenarius, but can't be
>sure. All were estimated 10 inch caudexes or larger. Working with the 
>we do have the means to identify our plants if they are spotted.
>What we know so far about this crime is that:
>1. The criminals knew what they were looking for. They jumped around our
>stock picking their targets, mostly looking for blue Encephalartos. They 
>by other green species.
>2. It appears to have been more than one person. It was too much work for
>one person.
>3. They have stolen many plants which can be identified by us (and you)
>including the Dioon merolae, the E. princeps, the Macrozamia and the Dioon 
>We very much remember the exact appearance of these plants.
>4. Fingerprints were obtained.
>5. The plants are either being sold to some unscrupulous collector who is
>willing to buy stolen plants or are being paid by an equally despicable
>person who hires others to commit his crimes.
>So, please help us and stop this rampant disregard for personal property and
>the law. Contact us, even anonymously, if you have any information. We don't
>know for sure if the final person getting our plants actually was the once
>committing the crime or if he had others do it. Therefore, things to watch 
>that could tickle your suspicion might be:
>1. Someone who offers to sell the plants above.
>2. Someone who has recently obtained plants similar to above under any
>circumstances, either in their collection or for sale.
>3. Someone who sells plants out of the containers, perhaps saying "they are
>easier to move around barefoot".
>4. Someone who tells you their "new" plants came from a "personal source"
>but they can't really tell you where they got them.
>5. Someone who has lots of rare cycads but doesn't really go to nurseries.
>6. Someone who says he "just imported" the plants above. One cannot import
>this sized plants nowadays.
>7. Someone who likes plants being brought to them and has said they will buy
>plants if you bring them to them (buyer of stolen plants).
>8. Or, someone who likes to take plants (bare rooted) to potential buyers
>and doesn't have a nursery themselves.
>9. Someone affiliated with the nursery trade who has knowledge of cycads and
>seems to "come up with good plants" but doesn't have his own nursery or
>you can go see any time.
>10. Someone who seems to come up with "amazing" deals on cycads, especially
>Encephalartos. The "too good to be true" scenario comes from the fact that 
>seller didn't pay for them!
>11. Someone who likes to pay for his plants with cash (no record) or will
>only take cash if you wish to buy them from him (no record).
>12. Someone who has plants that are "rooting out" and can't say where they
>got them.
>13. Someone who has large plants like these and says they are from a
>collection". Or, that he "just got some rare cycads in" and is vague about
>the source.
>14. Someone who has large plants and the leaves are droopy or unsightly or
>looking bad, or recently removed (remember, the roots have been torn and the
>leaves will go downhill)
>15. Someone who offers to sell plants and can't give CITES documents or
>where he got them.
>16. Someone who has plants or tries to sell plants and really doesn't know
>what he has; perhaps he just says "they are rare".
>17. Someone who is a little confused about the species of the plants he is
>selling or just bought and "lost the labels" and tries to get you to
>18. Someone who is selling such plants as above and doesn't have a
>nursery business.
>19. Someone who boasts about a collection that is apparently beyond his
>to obtain.
>20. Someone who's collection is growing by leaps and bounds but never really
>goes to nurseries to buy.
>21. Someone who is real secretive about his plants and seems to get plants
>from obscure sources.
>22. Someone who frequents nurseries always looking, never buying, and then
>suddenly has a lot of expensive plants.
>23. Someone who has access to manual labor (i.e. business that utilizes
>manual labor) to do his dirty work.
>24. Someone who just obtained any blue Encephalartos with close to 3 feet of
>Of course, a lot of the "clues" above are conjecture, but perhaps this might
>stimulate you into thinking of tips that could help us. We do need your
>help. And yes, we are offering a $5000 reward for information leading to the
>return of these plants and prosecution/conviction of the criminal(s).
>Perhaps you might think that a nursery can absorb such losses as we suffered
>last night. This is not true. We, like you, work hard for our living and
>many of these plants we had been growing for over a decade. It is not fair 
>thieves can get away with this. It is not fare that cycad enthusiasts and
>nurserymen must worry every night about someone taking their prized 
>plants. This
>criminal knew where the plants were in our nursery. Perhaps he came to our
>nursery to "case us out". He may have been to your nursery or house as well.
>Help us catch him. He will strike again. If you know who it is, have him
>contact us anonymously and we will accept back the plants without question.
>Please feel free to contact me privately with any leads. And, tell you
>friends about this so that so many people know that it will be unbearable 
>for such
>a thief to keep stolen plants. As all of us worked with Quail Botanical
>Garden and other private collectors during their losses, I ask your help on 
>occasion. . And, thank you again.
>Phil Bergman
>Owner, Jungle Music Palms and Cycads
>Phone: 619 291 4605
>Fax: 619 574 1595
>email: palmNcycad@AOL.com

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