Michael Lukich, of Alstonville, pauses while replanting the hedge which thieves plundered, stealing about 60 plants overnight on Saturday.
Michael Lukich, of Alstonville, pauses while replanting the hedge which thieves plundered, stealing about 60 plants overnight on Saturday. Marc Stapelberg

60 plants stolen during heartless midnight raid

THE heartless theft of a newly-planted hedge at Alstonville has brought out an amazing community response, as neighbours rally to help the elderly victims who had saved up their pension to buy the plants.

When Michael and Gloria Lukich went to bed on Saturday night after spending the day planting out more than 60 English box shrubs at a cost of about $2000, they had no idea that a few hours later callous thieves would uproot the plants.

After informing the police, Mr Lukich then decided to check out the local markets to see if there was an unscrupulous stallholder attempting to sell his hedge plants.

"I went to the Lennox Head market but I did not see them," he said. "I just hope the people who took them feel bad and will not do this again."

 

However, refusing to be defeated, Mr Lukich was hard at work first thing yesterday morning, replacing his beloved hedge while passing neighbours called out greetings and wished him well.

"I take courage to plant again," he said.

"It's a very neighbourly area. We have had such sympathy from everyone. Men have offered to come around and help dig holes and many have offered us plants."

Mr Lukich said the theft came as a great shock because he and his wife's bedroom is at the front of the house and they never heard any movement outside.

"The plants were still there at 9pm on Saturday and we did not hear anything and I was awake at midnight," he said.

"On Sunday morning it was misty, so we did not realise someone had come by in the night and stolen all the plants along the front until later in the morning."

Mr Lukich said he was not going to stop creating the hedge he and his wife wanted for the home they moved into two years ago.

Following the theft the couple's neighbour, Anna Champion, took to social media in an effort to track down the culprits.

Living up to her name, her post about her elderly neighbours having saved up their pension to buy the English box plants, along with a message for people to look out for anyone selling similar plants to contact police, struck a nerve.

Within an hour her posting went viral, with hundreds of shares, likes and reposts.

"That is absolutely terrible," one person posted.

"If we can donate a plant each and (the) time to plant them to show there are more caring ppl (sic) in this world."

Ms Champion said she was pleased so many people rallied with offers to assist.

 

Mr Lukich said he was amazed by how strangers offered to help.

"We always liked living here but I did not expect this to happen," he said .

"It's all very neighbourly."



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