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Homegrown produce pilfered from Durham neighborhood

July 30, 2018

People in one Durham neighborhood are having an unusual and frustrating problem: The produce they’re growing in their own yards keeps getting stolen.

Residents in the Old North Durham neighborhood had seen apples plucked off a tree, tomatoes pulled off the vine and mint plants yanked out of the soil.

“People kept coming in the middle of the night, like 2, 3 in the morning, and just taking it,” Jameela Dallis said of her missing herbs.

“It’s a little disappointing to have a garden and not get the veggies from it,” said Patricia Sifuentes, whose tomatoes were stolen. “But I get eggplants. They don’t know what to do with them, so they haven’t taken them.”

Dallis’ mint is by the sidewalk, and Denver Jameson’s apple tree is by the street. So they wonder if people think that means the produce is free to take.

“Somebody was picking the apples, so I just approached him and asked what he was doing,” Jameson said. “He seemed very surprised and kind of confused about why I was approaching him.”

But Sifuentes’ garden is behind her house, meaning the thieves had to walk through her yard to get to it.

“You have to come into my backyard, reach in and find the tomatoes and then take them,” she said.

The residents said they’re not sure if people are unaware of private property rules or if they’re simply hungry.

“I tell myself that, if it’s feeding someone who needs the food, then I try not to get upset about it,” Sifuentes said.

“I think desperation is definitely part of it, but also, people probably get a thrill out of it as well,” said Dallis, adding that she isn’t going to put in the effort to grow things anymore if they keep getting stolen.

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