ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thieves have targeted an Albuquerque family again and again. However, it is not what is inside the house the thieves are after. It’s outside in the yard. Phillip Camp said he and his family spend 30 to 40 hours a week tending to their yard. “We come out here and have been hand watering every single day for the past year,” Camp said.
They transformed their property in west downtown Albuquerque from a condemned building into a home with a yard filled with flowers and trees. “We put a lot of time into these plants,” Camp said. “In a weird way, you get attached to them.”
You can imagine their frustration when they continue to see someone stealing those trees. Four times now their landscaping has been lifted. “We replanted them and put a light up, then it happened again,” Camp said. “We locked them in the ground with cables. Then this past weekend, they stole our trees again.”
Most recently, seven trees were stolen totaling more than $700 and it was all caught on camera. Surveillance footage obtained by KRQE News 13 shows a car pass by that the Camps’ believe was casing the house. Someone approaches the house, then someone yanks the trees right out of the ground. “We had a blue spruce here and it was going to be perfect,” Camp said. “My daughter picked it out for Christmas.”
Camp said Albuquerque Police told him there has been an uptick in landscaping crimes. Jim Forrester with Hilltop Landscaping said it is common for thieves to steal things from people’s yards, then replant them in someone else’s yard and then charge for it. “If they have no overhead, you can charge a homeowner $1,000 to plant three trees, four shrubs and a little bit of sod,” Forrester said. “You have no material costs. It is a pretty good way to steal money. There are so many underground, that just have a pickup truck and four shovels.”
Forrester recommends people use reputable landscaping companies with a business license and certificate of insurance, check receipts and tags on the items going into your yard. “We are just trying to make our neighborhood beautiful and have good areas for people to walk by but we have holes in the ground, dirt in the street, and it is just disappointing.”
Camp said he has filed a police report. We reached out to the Albuquerque Police Department about this issue but did not hear back.