As much as they provide pleasure, the flowers that bloom in Washington’s front yards do not have an easy time. In addition to the natural hazards of city life, there are also thieves, who pull them up or snap them off.
Halting that sort of marauding has been hard, but successes are claimed from time to time, as chronicled in a report posted Saturday by police in the Second District, which covers much of the western half of the city.
“The person responsible for the theft of flowers in the Second District was arrested on Friday, May 6, 2016,” a police lieutenant posted on a police department email bulletin board.
According to the police posting, emails had recently been circulated about “a person who for years had stolen flowers from private yards and on public space.”
Friday’s arrest appeared to stem from the alertness of a Northwest resident, who, according to police, spotted someone Friday evening in the Glover Park area resembling photographs of the possible thief.
In an interview, the resident, who did not wish to be named for privacy reasons, provided additional details.
Her brush with the man occurred in the Whole Foods Market on Wisconsin Avenue NW near Calvert Street, she said.
She had seen the man in the store and reported her suspicions to a supervisor there. He handed her his phone, she said, but as she called in her information, the man approached and “was standing right next to me.”
Finally, the resident said, the suspect moved on. In fact, he had left the store by the time the police arrived, the resident said. But, she said, she told her story and showed the photos.
As the man appeared to be walking away, she said, she told an officer, “You really have to get him.”
In the email posting, the police said officers “arrested the flower man for an outstanding warrant.”
They described the matter as an example of police-community cooperation while “on the lookout for the alleged suspect.”
In fact, police and community residents have been searching for some time for one or more flower thieves in the District.
In a Washington Post column written three years ago, Petula Dvorak wrote of the flower thieves that characterize each spring in Washington.
Among them, she said, was “the legendary flower thief of Northwest Washington” who may have been a homeless man.
“For nearly a decade,” Dvorak wrote, “he’s been cutting the priciest blooms — hydrangeas, peonies and lilac — and selling them to local florists and restaurants.”
Sometimes, she said, “someone snaps a photo of him, and it is circulated on neighborhood email forums.”
It was not possible Saturday night to determine whether the man arrested Friday is the same individual Dvorak described.
Citing an ongoing investigation, police said no more details would be provided Saturday.