An iron trellis that disappeared from the McKinley Park rose garden in East Sacramento last weekend turned up Thursday in a North Natomas backyard – where it had been used in a wedding.
The mother of the bride said her brother brought the 12-foot-tall trellis to the wedding as a gift for his niece, and none of the other family members suspected it was the stolen piece of landscape architecture from the venerable city park.
“My brother was an idiot, and he thought he was doing a nice gesture for his niece. He didn’t think about the consequences,” Wendy Poirier Barnes said about her brother Richard Gerritt Hengeveld.
The family was trying to figure out whom the arch belonged to, Barnes said, and how to give it back when police showed up and the wedding photos started appearing on television.
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Barnes said she had bought a plastic arch with lights, but left it in the car when her brother showed up with the much larger wedding prop. Her daughter Tabatha Yocham, away on her honeymoon, was mortified that her wedding had become the subject of a police investigation, she said.
Pictures of the trellis, in pieces and and strapped to a bike trailer, are posted on Hengeveld’s Facebook page with the note: “Need. A truck to move this arch from brk to natomas. For my nieces wedding today.”
The pictures were posted on the morning of April 30, the same day Hengeveld’s niece married Alan Yocham Jr. in a backyard ceremony in North Natomas.
“Brk” stands for Broderick, the neighborhood in West Sacramento, where Hengeveld is from, his sister said. She said she didn’t know where he was or how to contact him. “As far as I know he’s homeless,” she said.
Sacramento police detectives are still looking for Hengeveld, and the case remains under investigation, department spokeswoman Officer Traci Trapani said.
Trapani said she couldn’t disclose details of the ongoing investigation, including how detectives learned of the rose trellis’s whereabouts.
But Cecily Hastings, a founder of the nonprofit Friends of East Sacramento, said an upset wedding guest tipped off her group after learning it manages the McKinley Park rose garden and was looking for the trellis.
“The people at the wedding were bragging about the trellis being stolen the night before. He (the guest) just felt this was wrong,” Hastings said.
The man, who remains anonymous, alerted Hastings and her colleagues to photos of the Yocham wedding posted on family Facebook pages. The photos show the bride and groom walking under the trellis and male guests wearing red sneakers and black suits leaping into the air beside it.
The East Sacramento group forwarded the information to police, who discovered where the photos were taken near Kenmar Road in North Natomas, Hastings said. Officers drove around the neighborhood until they spotted the trellis rising above a 6-foot-tall wooden fence, she said.
Hastings said she thought a group of thieves with a truck must have been involved because the trellis weighs hundreds of pounds and was covered on one side with rose vines.
The trellis required a flatbed truck to return it to McKinley Park, where it has been locked up to prevent another theft, she said.
“Quick work by our Clunie facility manager Joe Pane insured that the trellis was trucked back to the park yesterday,” the Friends of East Sacramento posted on its Facebook page Friday. “It is secured in a fenced area until we can re-install it hopefully next week.”
The group also thanked Councilman Jeff Harris, who represents East Sacramento, for reaching out to police about the stolen property.
Harris said Friday he was glad the arch had been returned and was considering measures that might prevent further crime at the park, including restricting entry at night and mounting cameras. Those who stole it should receive stiff penalties, he said.
“The McKinley rose garden is a beloved amenity for our entire five-county region,” Harris said. “To have one of our beloved trellises stolen … is nothing short of shocking and it makes me angry.”
Park-goers said they, too, were aghast that the trellis, one of 16 set up decades ago in the 1.5-acre rose garden, was illegally removed and its roses hacked down.
“When I heard it was stolen I thought it was terrible and that somebody had taken it to sell in the scrap metal market,” said park walker Pat Minyard on Friday. “The trellis is artwork.”
When told it had been taken for a wedding, Minyard said he hoped “the idiot who took it is in jail.”
The trellis had sat quietly for years in an area behind the preschool at 33rd and H streets. Hastings, with Friends of East Sacramento, estimated the cost to replace it at $6,000.
The sad thing, she said, is that wedding parties can rent out the entire rose garden for three hours for less than $500. The cost is kept low so it’s affordable to many area residents, she said.
The garden is one of Sacramento’s more popular wedding spots. Brides and grooms say their vows under the trellises and robins build nests in the tangle of metal and thorns, East Sacramento residents said.
Park visitor Lynn Morgan said the trellises are a cherished and “absolutely gorgeous” part of the garden. Thieves shouldn’t have removed one for the sake of backyard nuptials, she said.
“Have the wedding here,” Morgan said. “Don’t take the trellises to the wedding.”