Plum tree stripped bare

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2014
PLum Theft
EMPTY BUCKET: Desley Tobin, 67, was flabbergasted to find her plum tree stripped bare of fruit.

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Desley Tobin woke early, slipped into her gumboots and grabbed a bucket, ready to pick ripe plums from her backyard tree.

But the Massey resident was "flabbergasted" to find an unwanted intruder had beaten her to it.

The tree had been completely stripped bare on Monday morning and Mrs Tobin estimates about half a banana box of fruit taken.

It's an exasperating act because it's now the fourth year in a row it's happened.

Mrs Tobin, 67, was home all weekend and waiting until the plums were perfectly purple, round and juicy before picking some for her daughter and preserving the rest.

She wants to let whoever's doing the dirty deed know that stealing is not OK.

"I was so angry. I have no idea who it could be but I'm guessing it's the same person coming back every year," Mrs Tobin says.

"I give quite a lot of fruit to the neighbours. If someone wanted fruit they could've just asked me.

"It's frustrating. My hands are tied and there's nothing I can do. It's such a cheeky and selfish act," she says.

Last year Mrs Tobin cut her camping trip in Ruakaka short to come back and pick the plums, only to find the tree bare.

Another year her daughter drove from her Bombay home to collect the fruit - again the tree was stripped.

The tree is situated in a fenced section at the back of her property and is not visible from the road.

Massey Constable Luke Wilson has visited the property and can't find any signs of broken entry.

He's also spoken to neighbours and is confident they're not behind it.

Mr Wilson says police don't have any other lines of inquiry but it's important to educate the community that it's not OK to steal fruit.

"Quite often people are growing fruit for a reason, whether they're bottling it for jam or preserves, and it's not OK to steal it," he says.

"Generally we get complaints of children jumping over the fence and taking a couple of pieces of fruit but this is a bit different."

Mr Wilson says the act can be considered theft which has a prison sentence of up to three months.

He urges people to keep an eye out for unusual behaviour on their neighbours' properties and to call police if they see suspicious.

Mrs Tobin is considering padlocking a gate to the back yard.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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