Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii, known as “The Geisha” – is approximately 94cms total height. NB the tree was in a different pot when it was stolen

Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii, known as “The Geisha” – is approximately 94cms total height. NB the tree was in a different pot when it was stolen

 Juniper chinensis var. monarch, is approximately 61cms total height including ‘Dansai’ pot.

Juniper chinensis var. monarch, is approximately 61cms total height including ‘Dansai’ pot.

BONSAI THEFTS  (an unpublished article I wrote for a bonsai magazine)

There has in recent years been an escalation in the number of bonsai thefts in the UK, and no doubt, all over the world and I have been one of its more recent victims.  I had two Chinese junipers stolen a month ago.  One of the trees I’ve had for over twenty years.

My first reactions to the theft were of shock and total disbelief, then anger, then sadness.  Sadness because the two stolen trees which were in different parts of my garden suggested that the thief knew exactly what he wanted and where to find them.  This meant that the thief must have previously visited my garden and enjoyed the usual welcome, hospitality, trust and friendship from my wife and me.  So yes, I feel very saddened that the visitor, possibly a friend, could repay us in this way.  To refer to a friend of ours as “a thief” is truly upsetting! Someone, who if caught, now risks a prison sentence.

My next reaction was to immediately contact the police who have been very helpful with a number of useful tips relating to future security. Check out “Smart Water” on the Internet, this is a chemical “DNA” that can be applied to your trees/pots or anything else with an internationally unique (microscopic) identity number that shows up under UV lighting and indicates where the stolen property has come from.  Needless to say, I have also significantly increased other security in my garden with infrared wireless sensors and alarms etc all over the place.

The thefts in the UK have ranged from odd trees stolen from individuals to very large numbers of trees stolen from bonsai nurseries and traders and no one ever seems to see them again.

Bonsai thefts are happening with increasing regularity and the bonsai fraternity, if it wishes to protect itself, must take whatever steps necessary to reduce this from happening again.  One way to do this is for someone with Web-building skills to create an Internet Website (entitled: BONSAI THEFTS) listing of all of the stolen bonsai from around the world including a short description and photographs.

A site of this sort would not only provide a reference for people to check from time to time to see if they can recognise any suspicious trees being offered at yard/car-boot sales or on eBAY — and private websites etc., but it would also enable any would-be buyers to check the list first to see whether the tree/s they are being offered for purchase are on the ‘stolen tree’ list.  This would make it much more difficult for thieves to dispose of the trees.  Perhaps WBFF or EBA could undertake this service.  It would be a huge benefit to the whole of the bonsai world and shouldn’t be too difficult to manage.

Returning to MY “thief” — he can’t be all bad; remember he is someone’s son, possibly someone’s father, brother, husband — so there are people that love him.  If he should have a change of heart (I presume he has one), it won’t be too difficult to return my trees.  Remember, conscience is for life and the thief and his family will never be able to escape from it.  And bonsai is all about life and love — show some!

NB.  If anyone can supply information leading to the safe return of the trees I will be hugely grateful and have a pleasant surprize for them.

One response

20 01 2010

Very sorry for your loss…I can’t imagine how that must feel. None of the trees I own are specimens like the ones that you had stolen from you, so it can’t really compare, but even if someone stole one of my mine that I’ve put years of work into, it would be devastating. Each tree is like a member of your family, and not just a possession. I just cannot understand how a person could steal something like this…Hope the trees are eventually returned and/or the thief is brought to justice!

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