TUCSON- Cactus crooks are making their way into people's yards, businesses, or anywhere they can get their hands on the Golden Barrel cactus.
Cindy James lives in midtown. She had just planted three cactus, when she went out to water them and found three holes where the barrel cactus were the day before.
“I didn't expect to have any thieves come through here and steal plants that I had planted.”
The cactus crooks dug up the Golden Barrels, with one crook leaving a shoe print.
She called Tucson Police, who told her it was probably contractors, or landscapers.
Three miles away in front of Hourly Cleaners, Margaret Joplin of Design Collaborations told News 4 Tucson, “We had the Golden Barrels, and as you can see someone came by and just dug them up and took them away.”
Joplin said the thieves stole about half a dozen nice sized Golden Barrels, but they didn't take the small ones.
“Golden Barrels is a hot commodity for a couple of reasons," said Joplin. "It's got the beautiful gold color, as well as a cactus and it's a low water use.”
The cactus is also a specimen plant, making it more expensive. Depending on the size, they range from $50 to $300.
At Harlow Gardens they have a variety of sizes for sale.
“I have heard of instances where people would go in after they had just been planted and dig them up and steal them during the night,” Debbie Moucne said.
Moucne added a few years ago Golden Barrels were all the rage in Japan. She said the plants were incorporated with a lot of the contemporary designs. Mass plantings were in all the design magazines.
She said it made it difficult for them to have Golden Barrels in stock and that drove the thefts up.
But as to why cactus crooks are digging them up now from peoples yards and businesses is anybody's guess.
Cindy James said she will choose another plant to fill the holes the thieves left behind.
What is for certain, the Cactus Crooks are a thorn in the victim's side
Besides Tucson police getting theft reports, Oro Valley Police have also had reports of stolen cactus.
Plus there's a good possibility people who are experiencing thefts won't call authorities because they don't feel it's worth reporting.