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December 10, 2012

For a second year, local retailer falls victim to Christmas tree thieves

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM — During the overnight hours of Nov. 23-24, thieves took a few hundred dollars’ worth of holiday spirit from The Plant Station on Adams Road, and it wasn’t the first time.

For the second year in a row, The Plant Station was allegedly robbed of 10 Christmas trees for sale on the store’s lot. According to reports, the stolen trees were likely taken by perpetrators who pulled a vehicle behind the store, climbed over the fence and threw the trees back over.

The scenario is all too familiar to The Plant Station owner Theresa Costello, who lost thousands of dollars last year when four dozen trees were taken from the florist. 

“I don’t know if it’s the same folks as last year, and I don’t know why it’s always me. I guess I’m the lucky one,” said Costello, saying the trees could be worth money to thieves when they’re sold for cash on the street.

Cmdr. Terry Kiernan of the Birmingham Police Department says the store’s location is the most likely reason Costello has been targeted more than once. In fact, he says he’s received several reports from the florist of missing seasonal merchandise that’s kept outdoors, including firewood and damaged or vandalized landscaping materials.

“It’s not a well-lit in that area, there’s not a lot of traffic going through, and the way the building is situated, the backside of it is not well-lit,” said Kiernan of the shop on Adams Road at the corner of Haynes Street. “It’s easy to pull around back and hide. Even if you’re driving down Adams, unless you’re specifically looking in that direction, you’d have a hard time seeing what’s going on.”

Kiernan says lighting is the best crime deterrent in most situations, noting that there are other florists in Birmingham who keep large merchandise outside but don’t report many thefts throughout the year because those stores keep their lights on at all times. But even bright lights may not be enough to prevent some Grinches from spoiling holiday spirit.

“Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world and they’ll likely take advantage of people trying to display their merchandise,” he said.

Costello isn’t ready to call Christmas a wash just yet, though. She says she’s moved her merchandise to make it harder for would-be thieves to access, and she’s upgraded her security to include surveillance cameras. The next time Scrooge strikes, she says The Plant Station will be ready.

“If it happens again, they will be caught this time,” said Costello.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.