Crime - Sacto 911

Trellis theft at McKinley Park rose garden raises security concerns

A sculptured wrought-iron trellis, one of 16 used to support climbing roses, was stolen from McKinley Park’s memorial rose garden.
A sculptured wrought-iron trellis, one of 16 used to support climbing roses, was stolen from McKinley Park’s memorial rose garden. Ellie Longanecker

Caretakers and supporters of Sacramento’s McKinley Park memorial rose garden are asking the public’s help in finding a decorative wrought-iron trellis stolen from the garden early Saturday.

The theft also has raised the issue of nighttime security to protect the garden from vandals.

The trellis is one of 16 sculptured iron trellises, or arbors, custom made and installed at the 1.5-acre garden more than 20 years ago, said Ellie Longanecker, who has orchestrated the garden’s restoration in recent years. The trellis is 8 feet wide by 16 feet tall, weighs hundreds of pounds and was bolted to concrete pads. Removing it would have required several people and a large truck, Longanecker said.

The trellis was stolen from an area behind the preschool at 33rd and H streets. The vandals cut down climbing roses supported by the trellis and damaged nearby tree and bush roses.

Longanecker said the motive for the theft is a mystery. The trellis is a work of art and its replacement cost is estimated at $6,000. Longanecker said she contacted a local metal recycler and was told its value as scrap metal would be negligible compared to its value as an artwork. Because of its distinctive design and floral sculpture, it would be easily recognized if someone were to try to sell it as a landscaping feature.

“It’s not like something you would find at a nursery,” Longanecker said.

Members of the Sacramento Rose Society care for the rose garden on a daily basis and the nonprofit Friends of East Sacramento has a lease to manage the garden, which is rented for various events, including weddings. Event fees and private donations cover the maintenance of the garden and lawns.

Restoration of the garden, which began in 2009, has resulted in replacement of more than 600 of the 1,200 bushes, and eight perennial companion gardens have also been refurbished.

Longanecker, a master gardener and consulting rosarian through the American Rose Society, said she views the theft as a wake-up call emphasizing the need to secure the garden at night.

The garden is a lovely spot during the day, but volunteers arrive each morning to find trash and broken bottles left overnight, Longanecker said. She would like to see an iron fence installed around the garden so the site could be secured at night. A “clean-looking iron fence,” she said, would cost about $36,000.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the stolen trellis, or wishing to donate money to help replace it, is asked to call Longanecker at 916-483-0615 or Lisa Schmidt at 916-452-8011, or email

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy