This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the July number of the "Monthly" an article headed as above has special interest for me, as I had some time ago a similar experience. In May of 1875, we had a large bed of Tuberoses flowering in one of our greenhouses, and had been picking a thousand or more daily, when all at once the supply began to diminish so as to attract the attention of the man in charge, and it became evident that some one was stealing them at night. A watch was set and the thief captured, who proved to be a young workman who had left our establishment a few days previous, and whose knowledge of the premises made his stealing the flowers an easy matter. On being caught, he plead so piteously that we let him go, but the ungrateful scamp came right to the spot again the next night, and got safely off with another lot. Watch was again set, but the sentinel slept, and once more he was successful. I now brought in the aid of the police and he was again caught; this time he asked no quarter, nor got any, and I had him duly committed before a magistrate.
But when the case came up before the grand jury, the District Attorney advised them that there was no case, as there was "no law on the Statute books against stealing flowers." The consequence was that he was discharged, and, incredible as it may seem, the first use he made of his freedom, was to again pay a nocturnal visit to my Tuberose bed, and he got off scot free with another basketful. The thing was now getting serious; Tuberoses were worth $3 per 100, and he took 500 at least at every haul. The law had shown itself powerless to punish; the fellow had found this out and was determined to make the most of his "rights," as he evidently held to the principles of Robin Hood and other rievers who believed in " The good old rule - the simple plan That he may take who has the power, And he may keep who can."
But on the next night of his foray he came to grief in a way that has induced him to leave our Tuberoses undisturbed since.
Now the perfect absurdity of having such valuable interests, as are now owned by the horticultural community, unprotected by law is almost beyond belief. This man had stolen nearly $100 worth of my flowers that were as much my property, and had probably cost as much to produce, as the same value of flour or beef, and yet, the thief was set free and virtually told by the court to go and help himself again, of which privilege, as has been stated, he was not slow to avail himself. This immunity from punishment of the flower or tree thief is not generally known, and this ventilation of it in your columns will not certainly make our property, any safer, unless it be the means of stirring up our legislators to the great necessity for a remedy.