Plant piracy. It’s a crime – Wollongong

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a television. But apparently some people have been stealing plants from public spaces around Wollongong.

We love our natural spaces and so does our community. Our horticultural teams have been working hard to spruce up our playgrounds, parks and verges with new plants as part of Council’s Urban Greening Strategy.

However, several public spaces have been targeted with plant theft and other forms of tree vandalism.

“We’re proud of the work our crews do each day to make Wollongong a vibrant and green place to live,” Wollongong City Council Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“Unfortunately, some people have been doing the wrong thing by stealing and damaging plants. Public spaces are for everyone and plant theft wastes money, takes additional time to fix and ruins the beauty of our city.

“Any act of vandalism, from breaking or removing trees to pulling the plants out of the ground to die, is not on. The wanton destruction of plants, trees or any public property is a pathetic act that detracts from our sense of community and is an unnecessary waste of resources.”

Plant theft and tree vandalism on public land is a serious criminal offence. People caught stealing or vandalising plants and trees may receive a fine starting from thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the incident.

“It’s a shame to have to talk about the behaviour of just a few community members who are destroying and stealing plants from public land,” Cr Bradbery said.

“We’re asking everyone to enjoy our local playgrounds, parklands, verges and beaches without souveniring the plants for another garden. Please leave our public spaces intact and undamaged for the next person.”

Tree vandalism can come in many forms from poisoning, pruning, ringbarking, burning, removing or destroying plants.

“We need everyone’s help to stop plant theft in our community. If you do have information about a plant theft or act of tree vandalism, report it to Council or the Police,” Cr Bradbery said.

“If you do see a plant you love, don’t steal it. The Wollongong Botanic Garden holds regular subsidised plant sales for residents wanting to add colour to their garden with a range of native plants. So, there’s no excuse to steal plants from public land.”

The work we are doing to green public land is part of Council’s plan to make our open spaces safer and cooler now and for future generations.

Report plant theft and tree vandalism to Council by submitting a request on our website, or contact the Police on 131 444.

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