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Thief targets social housing gardens

Garden theft all too common in Richmond these days, say community gardeners
Ian Lai would happily share his garden at Terry Nova, if people asked first. Last week, Lai caught a couple red-handed helping themselves in front of him to his garlic. July 2014.

People looting the fruits of other folks’ labour in community gardens in Richmond is, unfortunately, all too common.

However, a recent rash of thefts from a large plot near City Centre is particularly disturbing as it’s depriving people living in BC Housing-supported accommodation of rare helpings of fresh vegetables.

Many of the residents who grow produce such as carrots, peas and potatoes are disabled, seniors and people on welfare.

One of them, Leah Tee, has appealed to whoever is ransacking their gardens to stop and think about whom they are stealing from.

“Many community gardeners in Richmond do what they do because they live in expensive condos with no green space,” said Tee, who asked the News not to name the garden’s location in case even more thieves are attracted.

“We do it for food, because we can’t afford the price of fresh produce. We do it to eat properly; the food bank doesn’t provide a lot of fresh stuff. My garden was supposed to feed me for the whole summer.

“I’ve lived here for 13 years and this is the first time I’ve experienced this.”

In the most recent incident, the thief realized after they’d hauled up the carrots that they were not ready for eating and simply tossed them aside. “If you’re going to steal my vegetables, at least eat them,” added Tee.

A neighbour of Tee’s also spotted a pair of thieves on CCTV footage last week, helping themselves to five shopping bags worth.

“Community garden does not mean it’s there for anyone to ‘shop’ in,” said Tee.

“This has been an ongoing trend in Richmond and it has to stop. If you want vegetables, go buy them or make your own garden.

“Something has to be done. We should not have to surround gardens with chain-link fences, barbed wire, security cameras and guard dogs.”

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