Garden thieves rip up Kidsgrove Station's plants
POLICE are hunting thieves and vandals who have repeatedly targeted floral displays at a train station.
Volunteer gardeners who look after Kidsgrove Station have reported the crimes after becoming fed up of their pretty flowerbeds being desecrated.
The Friends of Kidsgrove Station group says their roses, chrysanthemums, pansies and shrubs are sometimes uprooted and dumped near to the railway buildings.
On other occasions, the flowers have completely disappeared, giving rise to fears that thieves are stealing them for their own gardens or to sell.
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The most recent thefts occurred on Monday night, when flowers were taken.
But that was just the latest in a long line of incidents that has left the gardeners at their wits' end.
Sandra Bowyer believes whoever is taking the flowers may even be selling them.
The 66-year-old retired Kidsgrove councillor, from Harriseahead, said: "I've been helping with the flowers for about four years after I started sprucing up the station along with another resident called Allan Dale. I thought it would be nice to put something back into the community.
"To be honest we've not had a massive problem over the years, it's just been recently.
"We started having a problem with a hanging basket and it's gone from there.
"It's reached the stage where they are taking them as fast as we are putting them down, so it's getting ridiculous.
"Sometimes we find the plants near the station, but sometimes they are completely gone.
"They must be taking them for home, or to sell. They must have a very nice garden."
The volunteer gardeners contribute hundreds of pounds each year towards the upkeep of the station.
They have been planting bulbs, removing weeds and brambles and persuading people to donate plants and equipment since 2008.
The station has been criticised for being neglected in the past and the Friends of Kidsgrove Station group pledged to look after it and report any incidents of crime and disorder.
Newchapel councillor Elsie Bates, of Harriseahead, who is also a member of the group, described the thefts as 'heart wrenching.'
The 70-year-old appealed to visitors to the station to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
Mrs Bates said: "What we would like is for people to keep their eyes open.
"We've had such a lot of beautiful shrubs go missing. They're not always vandalised, they must be taking them home.
"It looks like they are cherry-picking the nicest ones. It's heart wrenching.
"Maybe they are selling them out of the back of a car. They're rapscallions."
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said they were aware of the thefts, and asked for anyone with any information to contact them on 101.