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SAUGUS — A Saugus family is looking for answers after a thief was caught on camera stealing from their Essex Street garden on two separate occasions earlier this month.
Pabel Perez said when he and his mother, father, and sister moved to Saugus from Chelsea in 2019, the family, all avid gardeners, was excited to have a large yard.
“We lived in a really small house before, so this is the first time our family has owned anything with so much land,” he said. “We like plants, we like trees, we like anything that has to do with nature.”
Hoping a garden would help brighten up the yard, Perez’s father planted several dozen bulbs with the idea that the family would be able to enjoy a tulip garden of their own come spring.
However, it wasn’t long after the flowers began to bloom that the Perez family noticed something was wrong.
“We’ve continued to fix the front lawn and the backyard and all that stuff, and we noticed three or four holes in the tulip garden,” said Perez, 31. “Luckily we owned a security system, so we decided to check the cameras, and we caught a lady with her boyfriend or husband, carrying a stroller and walking their dog, and she took three or four tulips.”
Unsure of what to do next, the family contacted the police.
“They told us there was nothing they could do. It wasn’t like they were stealing something worth a lot of money that they could get arrested for. It was something petty,” Perez said.
Although there wasn’t much to go on, the Saugus Police advised Perez to post the security footage online to see if someone else would be able to identify the woman.
On April 12, Perez posted the video to a Saugus community page on Facebook and appealed to its members for help identifying the thief, who can be seen on camera pulling the flowers from the bed and throwing them in the stroller’s undercarriage.
Despite community-wide outrage, no one seemed able to recognize the woman, Perez said. Then, the woman struck again.
“We’ve been keeping an eye out to see if they steal some more, and they took some Monday night around 11:30,” he said. “We were still awake, and you can see in the video where she looks at the house to make sure no one is watching because some of the lights were still on.
“She decides to take one that she thinks is out of view.”
In total, Perez estimates the woman has taken four or five tulips. He added that he and his family have become disheartened by the multiple thefts.
“(I feel) anger,” he said. “The more I saw (the footage), the more disturbed I became. It was a complete disregard for privacy and respect for private property. Seeing how the couple allowed the dog to just walk on the garden and not even on the sidewalk, I was just shocked.”
Perez said his family continues to monitor the garden and their security footage to see if the woman with the stroller returns.
“For her to pass by again and take another tulip, it was really disrespectful. We just feel like someone has violated our privacy,” Perez said. “It’s frustrating not knowing if she’s going to pass by again. Do we plant more tulips, you know? Are they going to steal them? Do we have to keep watching the front lawn? We just want her to stop.”
So far, no one has come forward with any information. Saugus Police Lt. Ronald Giorgetti said that if identified, the culprits could face a minor larceny charge.
“Potentially they could be charged with larceny of property,” Giorgetti said. “If we were able to identify the individual involved, we would probably request a summons to court for the larceny of property, or request a hearing before a clerk magistrate on a probable cause hearing.”
As for the justice his family would like to see, Perez said they simply want to make sure the couple understands the way their actions have affected others.
“It’s only flowers. She had a baby, and we definitely don’t want her to pay anything or go to jail for something so small,” he said. “We just ask that if they pass by, they respect us and don’t touch anyone else’s property. That’s it.”
Anyone who recognizes the suspects or has any information about the incident should contact the Saugus Police at 781-231-4037.
Elyse Carmosino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.