Two caught on camera stealing plants from Bridge of Flowers

  • The Bridge of Flowers, an iconic tourist attraction that is currently closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, had several newly acquired plants stolen this week. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/8/2020 4:32:08 PM
Modified: 5/8/2020 4:31:55 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — The Bridge of Flowers had several newly acquired plants stolen this week, but a security camera captured images of two people making off with the potted plants during an early morning heist.

The 91-year-old iconic tourist attraction is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but volunteers are still preparing the beds for spring and summer. On Tuesday, when head gardener Carol DeLorenzo was preparing to add to the gardens with plants that had been stored overnight in the shed area, she discovered that many of them were missing.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes at first,” she said. “Just the day before I had carefully transported them here, after spending hours researching and then purchasing them specifically for the bridge.”

Among the plants taken were two “rather prized” clematis, she said, as well as three delphiniums and three six-packs of snapdragons.

DeLorenzo, one of two part-time paid employees whose salaries are supported entirely by donations and fundraising, not local taxes, alerted members of the Bridge of Flowers Committee.

Member Lynda Leitner said this is not the first time plants have disappeared from the bridge.

“Last year, after several specimen plants went missing, including a spectacular Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit and a few incidents of actual vandalism,” she said, “we installed cameras on the bridge that record 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and store footage for review.”

Leitner said footage for the day of the most recent theft revealed two people arriving at the bridge at 5 a.m. and then departing quickly with plants in their arms. She said they appear to be women wearing hooded jackets.

“They even took two of the large plastic buckets we use to move plants and soil,” she said. “It’s so sad to think that anyone would want to steal from the bridge — it belongs to everyone.”

DeLorenzo said over the past two years, the bridge has experienced a series of thefts, which prompted the installation of the security system by Detectoguard last fall, along with motion-detector lights at both ends of the bridge.

“We’ve had to spend a good deal of our hard-earned funds to try to protect against this kind of plant theft,” Bridge of Flowers Committee Chair Annette Szpila said. “It’s a shame to think that so many visitors and friends of the bridge have generously donated in amounts large and small to keep the bridge going, and then there are people who feel no compunction about sneaking in to steal plants and even supplies.”

Factoring in the cost of the plants taken, as well as the security system and special lighting, Szpila said she estimates the total loss the bridge has experienced so far to be at about $2,000 to $3,000.

“And for us, that’s a lot of money not going into the gardens,” she said.

The video footage has been turned over to the Shelburne Police Department, which is investigating and working to identify the two suspects. Anyone with information should call the Police Department at 413-625-0304, ext. 5, or the Shelburne Control dispatch center at 413-625-8200.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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