Cactus Thief Strikes Again

cactus2 copy

I knew this was going to happen. After the theft of the first of three barrel cacti in our front yard, I knew the perp would be back. Sure enough the second cacti disappeared the other night. Now I’m left with the smallest, and most pathetic of the three cacti.

In response I considered rigging up some kind of Arduino based cacti security system that would set off an alarm and flashing strobe in the house. Attach a trip wire to the root system and we’re in business. I also pondered another extreme strategy: shower the cactus thief with free flats of baby cacti. The latter strategy could even lead to the first ever Root Simple Upworthy style clickbait headline, “Thief Steals Cactus and the Thorny Response Will Have You in Tears.”

Stoic philosopher Epictetus set me straight on what I should really do. He says, “Stop admiring your clothes and you are not angry at the man who steals them . . . our losses and our pains have to do only with the things we posses.” (Discourses Book 1.18) And wanting to posses a Home Depot cactus is quite pathetic.

It reminds me of something a friend told me, “Never drive by and look at a garden in a house you once owned.” Our gardens are impermanent. That impermanence is actually something that makes gardening interesting. My wandering cacti might even have a more sunny location in which to thrive.

Leave a comment


  1. You need one of those game cameras with a motion sensor set right to that area to catch the thief in action! Replant a trap and wait! If it’s not about how you feel about it, it should be about the shame that they should feel about a pathetic crime……………..

  2. What the hell? Was it some kind of super rare expensive cactus? I just went to a living historical farm with the kids and was talking to a woman who works there and she said they were having problems with people stealing watermelons from their garden. She planted citron melons right by the fence so they would take those instead (I guess they are really gross when eaten fresh?). Sure enough some guy stole one and she said she got a good laugh thinking about him biting into it.

  3. I think anyone stealing a plant is pathetic, unless it’s because they’re hungry and have no food. I once had a very tall cactus stolen off my front porch. It took years for it to reach that size (close to 4 feet), so I was sad that someone could reach so low as to take it. I remember thinking that whoever took it probably did not keep it, but made some money from selling it.

  4. Yes they stole the cacti, but more importantly they stole time (life) from you. *The time it took you to earn the money to buy the cacti and the time you spent caring for the cacti. The time portion of your life is irreplaceable.* I detest thieves!

  5. Leave a little note for them to bring out their guilt and leave the note in a cacti that you suspect you will be taken next

  6. I like the thought of more sunshine. When people stole 7 of our fruit trees (3 that were just planted!!) I was so mad but the hubby said, at least there are more fruit trees out there now. We bought more and got two shelter doggies that bark like they are going to tear someone’s head off and we haven’t had anything stolen since! Thank you LA shelter system. 🙂

  7. I hope you will catch them just to find out why they took it. Money? Personal enjoyment? To give to a friend? There is no rhyme nor reason to me why anyone anywhere would want a cactus. It would not be my first or thousandth choice if I were going to steal a plant.

  8. Golden barrel cactuses are pretty valuable when they are older specimens, but it seems to me a case of them testing to see if you would notice or care. I say plaster the neighborhood with warning plant thief signs and pretend to put up a camera. It sucks this has happened. I would also plant nettles instead, and put the cactuses behind them. Hoping the weather in La has been hot enough that they’ll be in shorts.

  9. also, a scarecrow water sprayer would be a great deterrent if not surprise. You can angle it so the sensor trips only if someone is reaching over your property line, so passerbys don’t get hit. Would be even better if you could somehow fill it with dye.

  10. The other thing that you could do is trust in Karma.

    I mean stealing two cacti that were supposed to be protecting your vegetables from theft has got to have a reasonably expensive Karma price to it, wouldn’t you think?

  11. I love going back and looking at the gardens we’ve had to leave! It’s taught me so much about neglected plantings and underscored the need to prune regularly.

    It’s bittersweet, of course, but it’s great to see how everything is competing with each other.

  12. Great response to theft, but ooh it makes me so mad when it happens. I dont mind the apple and grapes that walk off (its like my gift to people on the sidewalk) The plants though….

Comments are closed.