press release - 02161701




Carpinteria Man Investigated for Thefts of Exotic Plants




As a clarification, offshoots of the Encephalartos Woodii were stolen, not the plant itself.  Also, the suspect is not connected with that particular crime and he has not been cited or arrested for any crime at this point.  The case has been forwarded to the DA’s Office for review.


Carpinteria- February 16th, 2017


The Sheriff’s Rural Crimes Unit returned more than $3,000 dollars’ worth of stolen exotic plants this week to two Carpinteria nurseries.  On February 14, 2017, detectives contacted 28-year-old Cassidy Murphy King of Carpinteria regarding an investigation of stolen plants.  During that time, detectives recovered some of the plants he allegedly took last year from Seaside Gardens and Lotusland.  King was cooperative with the recovery of the plants at his residence.  The case has been sent to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for review.  


Last year, Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies identified King as the suspect in a theft of plants from an Ojai nursery and recovered alleged stolen plants at his residence.


The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office investigation began in August of 2016 when Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria reported the theft of exotic plants. The nursey was hit again in September and more rare and exotic plants were stolen. In December, Lotusland, a non-profit botanical garden also in Carpinteria, too reported the theft of rare exotic plants. 


Between the three reported thefts, the value of the stolen plants is approximately $6,800, although, an actual price cannot be placed on some of the plants due to their rarity.  Most of the plants, mainly the cactus and succulents are from various parts of the world including the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, South Africa, and Tanzania.   Some of the plants are listed anywhere from Near Threatened, Endangered, or Critically Endangered. 


Lotusland also reported a stolen plant considered virtually priceless.  The encephalartos woodii is listed as extinct in the wild and is only grown in botanical gardens and private collections.  King is not considered a suspect in the theft of that expensive plant.  The Sheriff’s Office is requesting anyone with information on this case to contact the Sheriff’s Rural Crimes Unit at 805-934-6512 or to leave an anonymous tip call 805-681-4171. 


The theft of expensive plants cause great financial burden for the victims and these crimes are fully investigated by the Sheriff’s Rural Crimes Unit.


For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover


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