Two men have been caught on CCTV illegally chopping back plants in Crawley town centre.
A borough council spokesman said the footage showed the pair parking a car in The Boulevard opposite the Town Hall and cutting pittasporum for ten to 15 minutes from 2.30am on Friday (February 12).
The plants were the same species as had been cut back in Memorial Gardens recently.
Unknown loppers struck at Memorial Gardens and at Northgate Parade where the pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ and camellia shrubs had been cut back.
Crawley Borough Council, which owns the gardens, alerted police to the criminal clipper. A spokesman said: “These shrubs are being cut at the wrong time of year so the pruner is not doing the council a favour.
“Instead he or she is having a negative impact on the look of the beautiful town centre park, which is gold rated by South East in Bloom.”
Council officers believed pruners may be taking cuttings to sell.
Councillor Colin Lloyd, cabinet member for Environmental Services, said: “We’re not sure of the motives of this pruner but even if they are not doing it maliciously, they are having a detrimental impact on the visual beauty of the Memorial Gardens.
“These species should not be cut at this time of year. If we have another cold spell they could be seriously damaged.”
Council gardeners are not in the gardens after 3pm from Monday to Friday and not at weekends at the moment.
A police spokesman said: “Police have received a report of bushes and shrubs being cut without permission in Memorial Gardens, Crawley.
“The incident was reported at 2.14pm on Monday (1 February), though it is believed to have occurred sometime in the previous two weeks.
“Anyone with any information is asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101, quoting serial 801 of 1/2.”
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