News, Police/Fire

The mysterious hydrangea thief is back

Swampscott, Ma. 11-19-18. David Spofford pointing to where the hydangea bush was damage. The fence was put up after the Damage was done. (Owen O'Rourke)

SWAMPSCOTT — The town appears to have a serial clipper on its hands.

David “Dewey” and Joan Spofford, who live at 23 Ocean View Road, said someone has taken cuttings from their hydrangea bush for the third year in a row. The retired couple spoke with The Item last year about the theft, which also occurred in November.

Their neighbor, John McLaughlin, also reported a thief had sheared off portions of his hydrangea for a third year. The Spoffords and McLaughlin say other neighbors have been hit as well.

The residents believe it’s a professional job. The plants were cut at an angle by someone they believe intends to grow the stems in a cellar or greenhouse over the winter and sell them for profit to be replanted in the spring.

“It’s crazy that no one’s seen anything,” said David Spofford. “It’s a tight-knit neighborhood and everyone is really nosy.”

Joan said whoever is doing the cutting has “quite a business going” as they’re taking the cuttings for nothing.

McLaughlin said whoever is committing the crime must be desperate for money as they’re not doing anything other than cutting a shrub. The thief must be someone who knows what they’re doing and has some knowledge of horticulture.

“Who knows? It’s a mystery,” McLaughlin said. “It would be nice to have it stop.”

McLaughlin said the theft hasn’t seemed to have harmed his plant, but Joan was concerned last year that the theft would prevent her hydrangea bush, which was planted 30 to 40 years ago right in front of their house, from blossoming. Her plant blossomed this year, but she’s unsure if it will next spring.

The Spoffords are taking precautions and police have been notified. The couple has put chicken wire fencing around their hydrangea bush and they have a message for would-be thieves.

“Stay out of my yard,” Joan said. “Beware. We’re going to get cameras now.”

More Stories From Swampscott