plant thief

A photo from surveillance footage outside of Satchel's Pizza showing hanging plants being abducted. 

They don’t know who he is. They don’t know why he does it.

All Satchel’s Pizza knows is a man rode away with three of their hanging potted plants on a bicycle just before 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

It’s only three of about 20 succulents, ferns and more stolen from the Gainesville pizza joint since April — that employees know of. They say it keeps happening. The culprit finally happened to be caught on surveillance footage.

“It’s just been an ongoing issue we’ve been trying to figure out,” said Satchel Raye, the restaurant’s owner. 

Raye isn’t sure how long the plant thief or thieves have been scheming, as hundreds of plants are housed at the restaurant. He’s been nursing the vegetation for a while and was confused why it looked depleted at times.

It wasn’t until five months ago when Satchel’s gardener Ashley Watkins pointed out that plants weren’t dying — just disappearing.

The basketed plants spend a long time growing, they blossom from time-to-time and are aesthetically pleasing, Watkins said. It’s frustrating to see Watkins’ and Raye’s passions stolen, he said. 

A few weeks ago, Watkins woke up to see her staghorn fern hanging in the front garden replaced with a miniature green hair tie.

“I’ve been kind of really upset about it,” Watkins said. “It’s not just an easy thing to replace.”

Raye isn’t able to move all of the plants indoors due to space constraints, a watch guard is too costly and other security measures just aren’t plausible, he said. 

Raye contacted law enforcement but decided not to file an incident report on the matter. Instead, he took to Twitter to see if civilians recognized the two-wheeling bandit.

“The cops don’t have time to look for a plant thief they don’t know anything about,” Raye said.

Watkins and Raye aren’t sure why anyone would consistently steal plants. Watkins said she doubts anyone is selling them, and said they are perhaps collecting or giving them away.

Regardless, Raye said he and Watkins just want their pizzeria plants left alone.

Dana Cassidy is an 19-year-old UF journalism sophomore and crime reporter at The Independent Florida Alligator. Outside of writing she loves fitness, film analysis, Mad Men, bad reality TV and excessive amounts of coffee.