Sheriff’s office pulls plant theft operation up by the roots

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By Alice Du Pont

A 24-year-old Gretna man, Torian Derell Daniels, has been arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft. Daniels was arrested without incident at a relative's home Wednesday afternoon in Gretna.

"We had several complaints from Imperial Nurseries about missing plants and flowers. Our investigation led to Mr. Daniels," said Inv. Brian Faison of the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office.

Daniels, Faison said, went to the back lot of the nursery at night and took 48 plants and flowers that were in 7-gallon containers. The plants' worth was estimated at $1,062. Faison said Daniels made several trips to the nursery over a 3-week period, stuffing five to six plants in his vehicle during each trip. He then sold the plants for $10 each, mainly in the Gretna area.

"We have evidence that he was taking orders for plants and that he was not acting alone. Our investigation is continuing and we expect to make more arrests," Faison said.

Some of the plants were found still in the containers in private yards and returned to the nursery. Others had already been planted but homeowners were warned that the plants were stolen property and advised regarding the consequences of receiving stolen property.

Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young said incidents of theft in the county are on the increase. He said the department has begun to step up its enforcement and will charge individuals who are buying stolen goods.

"It's common sense that these large, healthy plants would not sell for $10 anywhere. Our citizens have to understand that when they buy things from thieves they become a part of the crime. We have too many people buying stolen property. We're going to start charging them with dealing in stolen goods," he said.