Wilma Macpherson with her decimated organ pipe cacti.

Beware callous cactus crooks

WILMA Macpherson loves her garden, which is why she's been left heartbroken by callous crooks.

Two weeks ago, the 74-year-old Sawtellian discovered thieves had cut off and hauled away three large lengths of her beloved organ pipe cactus (she's had the original since 1965).

But on Monday night, they returned to finish off the job by trying to steal the remaining two cacti.

Wilma's husband, Keith, heard a noise at midnight and disturbed the two young men who were hacking off the plants. When they saw Keith coming after them, they fled empty-handed into the night.

Keith, 77, has had knee trouble, and the chase left him feeling a little tender yesterday.

“The whole thing makes me very sad,” said Wilma, whose family has a long association with the Sawtell area.

“Lately, I haven't been very well and can't do things in my garden I usually do, so to get it to a stage where it's nice without too much effort is nice.

“One of the favourite things in my life is my garden. I could live in it all day.”

To make matters worse, Wilma's cacti have been looking a treat lately with their first major flowering.

“Sometimes you wait 15 years for them to flower. I may never see them do so again,” she said.

Wilma and Keith suspect the culprits are targeting local gardens for their exotic plants.

“In the market, the potted cacti would cost a considerable amount of money,” Keith said.

“It would take two people with cutting instruments and a towel to carry away a large cactus.”

If you have information which could lead to the capture of the criminals, or if you've seen suspicious activity in Elizabeth Street, Sawtell, contact Sawtell police on 6653 1205.

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