Growing Trend: Thieves Raid Vegetable Gardens in Indianapolis, New York and Chicago

By Mac Slavo

As the economy sours, food prices continue to rise, and more people find themselves out of work, it is becoming increasingly difficult to put food on the table. This is evidenced by the record numbers of Americans on food stamps with supplemental nutritional assistance program participation rates quickly approaching 50 million people.

As a result, those who have lost everything or can’t afford to buy their own food are now turning to theft to make ends meet. Reports from Chicago, Indianapolis, New York and other cities across the country indicate that organized teams of thieves are turning to a growing criminal trend:


After a summer of battling bugs, pulling weeds and digging dirt in the stifling hot weather, gardeners of the Grassroots Community Farm were nearly in tears over the latest insult.

They struggled several times recently for answers to an unexpected problem at their three-acre plot near 38th Street and Lafayette Road.

Who would steal their hard-won tomatoes right off the vine? Who cut the collard greens and swiped their sweet potatoes?

Apparently, the gardeners decided, it wasn’t deer from nearby Eagle Creek Park. Rather, it was the work of vegetable thieves who came equipped with shovels and plastic bags.

Their plot isn’t the only community garden in the city to suffer thefts and vandalism this summer.…

“Thefts and vandalism are huge,” declared Kay Crimm of Grow Me gardens.

Last year, her group had a three-acre site near 46th Street and Arlington Avenue. It was plundered so badly that the gardeners left the site and moved to a plot at 46th Street and Post Road, she said, but it has “been ripped up, too.”

Source: WLS 890AM

Thefts of vegetables, fruits and herbs are not just isolated to the Indianapolis area. The New York Times reports that thefts are rising across the five boroughs, and similar reports have emerged from Chicago:

New York:

AT the 700 community gardens sprinkled through the city like little Edens, the first commandment should be obvious: Thou shalt not covet, much less steal, thy neighbor’s tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers. But people do.

By midsummer, the urban irritant of garden pilferage was in full bloom, right in sync with the crops, the heat and the mosquitoes.

But to hear urban farmers speak, no borough, and no garden devoted to edibles, whether sprawling or thimble-size, is immune to theft. “Food is more attractive than flowers, especially in this economy,” said Marjorie J. Clarke, a caretaker at the flowers-only Riverside-Inwood Neighborhood Garden, known as RING.

On the Upper West Side, cucumbers are tops for filching; in Harlem, the main draws are chilies and herbs; on the Lower East Side, green and red peppers; in Brooklyn and Queens, tomatoes and squash. But then, “tomatoes are universally enticing,” Ms. Bukowski said.

Read more at SHTF Plan

4 responses to “Growing Trend: Thieves Raid Vegetable Gardens in Indianapolis, New York and Chicago

  1. “Who would steal their hard-won tomatoes right off the vine? Who cut the collard greens and swiped their sweet potatoes?”

    why, the same folks that did all the stealing @ OWS!!

  2. here’s Mike Rivero’s comment at WRH:

    Start buying and planting vegetable seeds EVERYWHERE! Call it “Guerrilla Gardening” or “Cloud farming.” Everybody plants and everybody owns.

    There is a vast amount of empty space across America in alleys, empty lots, the yards of foreclosed homes. Food plants do not require a lot of care; farming is all about increasing yield to increase profits, but left to themselves such plants do produce usable food.

    The hungry won’t have to steal from private gardens if crowd-source gardens are growing all around them.

  3. “having your vegetables stolen is more of an inconvenience than anything else.”

    Having my vegetables stole is more than an inconvenience since I can’t any store bought corn contaminated vegetables! Thanks for the article. Its a shame that there is no respect any more.

  4. I agree with Rady and Mike: Guerilla plantings everywhere will invite the so-called thieves, who are probably really hungry, into the network of friendly gardning groups. Instead of a sign that says Please don’t steal the veggies, how about a sign that says: pleas sign up to join this garden network and get delicious veggies you grow yourself!”??? We have all got to get more proactively positive with one another!

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