A wheelbarrow isn’t typically considered a burglary tool. But in the case of the plant theft at Cotta’s Kitchen in Turlock, one was used as a getaway vehicle.
The theft was captured on the restaurant’s security cameras, the thief rolling his wheelbarrow onto the porch at 833 E. Main St. just before 10 p.m. Wednesday. The shirtless man bends slightly to set down the wheelbarrow, exposing the top of his posterior and earning him the name “butt crack bandit” from owner Angela Cotta.
However, the bandit then leaves, maybe to retrieve a shirt because he is wearing one upon his return 15 minutes later. He can be seen talking on a cellphone while he paces in front of the business.
“This guy’s got to live darn close if he’s toting around a wheelbarrow,” Cotta wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. “Or maybe he has a nighttime landscaping service where he pillages then (sic) plants.”
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The man proceeded to pull plants from a planter next to the front door: coleus and impatiens, according to Cotta.
He then went for the Japanese maple, yanking hard on two of them but conceding defeat. He left with the plants in the wheelbarrow, walking in the opposite direction from which he arrived.
“This is not our first experience with landscape larceny, or burglary in general,” Cotta said in an email to The Bee. “We have had several outdoor video cameras stolen, landscaping equipment – including wheelbarrows, shovels, and rakes – stolen, other plants/trees stolen, and windows and doors smashed in and/or broken.”
This also isn’t the first plant theft in downtown Turlock recently.
In April, the Turlock Garden Club planted flowers and other plants in 40 pots on East and West Main streets between Lander Avenue and Palm Street. The following week, five of the pots had been vandalized, said board member Carol McRoberts.
She said plants in three of the pots had been carefully dug out, while in two others, flowers were cut and left lying in the pot.
“I understand why some drunk would cut them to give to his girlfriend, but to cut them out and lay them in the pot is just destructive,” McRoberts said. “We do this for the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association and for the people who drive by and yell at us and thank us. We love it, but it is real discouraging that people would destroy something of beauty that has no benefit to them.”
Anyone with information about the thefts can contact Turlock police at 209-668-5550.