Heartless thieves steal tribute to dead wife

LOW ACT: Tom Breitenbach planted a tree in honour of his wife Joan, after her death, but it has been stolen.
LOW ACT: Tom Breitenbach planted a tree in honour of his wife Joan, after her death, but it has been stolen. Warren Lynam

AN ELDERLY man has been left heartbroken after a tree he planted in tribute of his recently deceased wife was stolen.

At just 12 inches tall, the Crown of Gold tree was standing in memoriam of Tom Breitenbach's wife for less than two months before it was callously uprooted from the Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens in Tanawha.

Mr Breitenbach, 87, volunteers at the gardens every Tuesday, so when his wife died from blood cancer in April it seemed only fitting to honour her with something he loves.

The shocking discovery was made during Mr Breitenbach's routine visit to the sapling in-between toiling on the rest of the garden.

"There's a lot of work to be done, but every week I walked past (the tree) and tended to it and made sure there were no weeds around it," he said.

"This Tuesday I went back and it was gone.

"I think it's an awful thing to do ..."

Plants stolen from the site isn't unusual according to Mr Breitenbach, but every time it happens hardworking volunteers are left disappointed.

"We go down there for our own enjoyment, we enjoy working there," he said.

"But we're also doing that to make it a better place for the people. Not only for the people of today, but the future generations.

"People pinch these plants, re-pot them and sell them at the markets and some of them use them for their own backyards."

While Mr Breitenbach intends to plant another tree for his wife, he offered an impassioned plea to the thieves to bring the tribute back.

"If they want to return it, just put it in a pot and return it to the same place," he said.

"No questions asked, it's just I'd like for that tree to reappear."

Topics:  botanic gardens crime editors picks gardening memorial stealing thieves

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