The strange case of the hanging baskets

HOLD on to your hanging baskets!Pesky thieves operating in Stowmarket are stealing dozens of hanging flower displays from front gardens, the Evening Star can reveal today.

HOLD on to your hanging baskets!

Pesky thieves operating in Stowmarket are stealing dozens of hanging flower displays from front gardens, the Evening Star can reveal today.

Hours of hard work by green-fingered homeowners were swiped overnight in a spate of thefts this week - leaving streets looking bare instead of beautiful.

In one of the most puzzling spates of crime in recent years, at least 30 baskets were taken from homes in the west of the town in one night.

And neighbours who have fallen foul of the basket-pinchers are now urging other residents to take down their flowers before the thieves do.

Morris Firman, of Constable Way, said: "My wife spent a lot of time preparing them for the summer and we are gutted all our hard work has gone to waste.

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"They had sentimental value too as the actual baskets belonged to her mother.

"Lots of homes down our road were struck overnight."

Neighbour Eileen Allard said: "It's such a shame. Just when we get them looking nice something like this happens.

"I don't know why we bother. Other people round here should hide theirs up quickly."

The mystery thieves biggest stealing spree was overnight last Saturday when 11 gardens in Gainsborough Road, Silverdale Avenue, St Edmunds Close and Constable Way as well as the town's leisure centre were all targeted.

The following day a mound of earth and flowers that had once been the gardens' centrepieces was found dumped on the pavement of Constable Way.

Resident Eric Pendergast said: "We had five baskets taken and although it came as a shock you have to accept we live in a world where this sort of thing happens."

Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, in Gainsborough Road, was also hit.

It had three hanging baskets pilfered and patio furniture vandalised and stolen.

Pat Turnbull, assistant manager at the centre, said: "We have been suffering from vandalism for about three weeks now and are very disappointed.

"This time the thieves went round the back of the centre, where the bar patio is, and caused quite a bit of damage. It is very unfortunate."

A police spokesman said: "It's a shame the offenders have stolen items people must have spent a great deal of pride and time in preparing and we would urge anyone who has not yet reported a theft like this to us to do so

"We are not linking the leisure centre theft to those elsewhere in the town but anyone who saw people acting suspiciously in either of the areas should contact Stowmarket police on 01284 774100."

Maggy Wilson, chairman of Anglia in Bloom, said: "This is terribly disappointing. I know how much hard work goes into making baskets look good and its heart-wrenching to hear stores like this."

Have you been a victim? What do you think of the hanging basket thief? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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