The theft of a pair of young chickens from a Willoughby community garden is the last straw after a long series of crimes.
On Aug. 24, Amanda Smith, the coordinator at the Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op, found two the three half-grown chickens missing.
It wasn’t coyotes or hawks, she said. There were no feather or signs of a struggle typical when a bird is taken by predators.
She’s also sure it was human thieves responsible because this is the latest in a string of thefts that has extended to whole buildings.
“Last December, we had our entire toolshed taken,” said Smith.
The thief or thieves made off with about two thirds of the tools inside as well. Community donations eventually replaced them.
“They really only took things you could cut with,” said Smith, including bolt and wire cutters.
Things were quiet until spring, when they were getting ready to start a community supportive agriculture program.
“In April, all of our seeds got stolen,” she aid. Spinach and lettuce, kale and Swiss chard seeds all vanished in the night.
Art’s Nursery donated replacements so the program could continue.
It was another program that would be the next victim, when landscaping plants for use with the Langley Association of Community Living vanished two weeks ago.
About half of the potted plants were taken.
The garden has also seen the thefts of vegetables off the vine, including green peppers and an experimental plot of quinoa in the greenhouse.
Finally, the chickens vanished.
“I never thought that we would get to the point where animals would get taken,” she said.
The distinctive-looking birds are bantam-silky partridge mixes, with furry-looking feathers around their feet. One is white and one is black, and one is a rooster, said Smith.
The thief or thieves took off with two of three siblings. The third is the fastest of the trio, said Smith.
She and other community garden users have found trespassers on the site in the past, and they have a suspect in mind for the thefts.
Smith is also frustrated because the community garden has no source of outside funding. It gets by on donations and the fees its 30 members pay to have plots on the six-acre site off 200th Street.
There are numerous public programs that take advantage of the site, which is planned to remain a community garden as Willoughby develops around it.
“We have children here,” Smith said.
She’s not sure what the garden can do about the thefts, since they don’t have the money to do a major security upgrade. She’s hoping police catch the person or persons responsible.