SAHUARITA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Many Arizonans will pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for their spiky plants. That’s why your front porch could be a target for plant thieves.
Sahuarita resident John Evans recently finished an expensive landscaping project in his front yard. He bought a few Ocotillos for around $300 each.
“They put the Ocotillo outside the gate matching the one near the mailbox so we had one on each side of the driveway,” Evans said.
But then, two weeks ago...
“The Ocotillo was missing.”
Arizona has a native plant protection act that makes it illegal to steal many local plants. Thieves face up to 25 years in prison. But that doesn't always prevent thefts from happening.
“Who does this? I was really surprised anyone would mess with anything on my property,” Evans said.
It’s even an issue at Arizona National Parks.
“People get the idea, this is public land it’s mine, I can take it," said Kevin Dahl, Tucson City Council Member. "But there are rules and regulations.”
Dahl worked as the Arizona program manager at the National Parks Conservation Association for 14 years. He says the Saguaro National Parks protect their cacti through microchipping, security cameras, and park rangers. And for Tucsonans with their own saguaros...
“The saguaro is a state protected plant, you cant move it off your property without going through and getting a permit and tagging it so that code enforcement know that it’s been properly done,” Dahl said.
If you see a saguaro being transported or sold without a tag, you should report it to the Tucson Police Department. Tucson Police also have a few recommendations to prevent plant theft at your home. The department says security cameras, flood lights, and heavy pots or chains are some of the best deterrents.
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