A green fingered Fife couple have been left heartbroken by a light-fingered intruder who stole a mature bush from right under their noses.
The three-foot high forest flame shrub was dug out of a garden in Hill of Beath while householders Gary and Tracy Paterson slept in the bedroom above.
The culprit then dragged the heavy, brightly-coloured plant – also known as a pieris – 200 yards up Torbeath Gardens, where he is believed to have loaded it into a van before making off.
Gary said the plant had sentimental value as it was planted just after he and Tracy married almost 25 years ago.
“We’re absolutely baffled,” he said.
“There was a long trail of earth and bark right up the street where it had been dragged, then it just suddenly stopped.”
He said a neighbour had spotted someone carrying a heavy item to a van at about 11.30pm on Sunday, an hour after Gary and Tracy had gone to bed.
“She said he wasn’t in any hurry whatsoever,” he said. “She didn’t know he’d taken something from my garden.”
Gary said the plant was shallow-rooted and was unlikely to survive, even if it was replanted quickly.
“I just hope whoever took it isn’t going to try to rip someone off by selling it if there’s a garden being done somewhere,” he added.
Since the theft, Gary and Tracy have been overwhelmed by offers to replace the shrub.
“The generosity of these people has put a little bit of my faith back,” Gary said.
Conservative councillor Darren Watt said he could not believe the brass-necked nature of the incident.
“We sometimes hear about the theft of potted plans, hanging baskets and garden ornaments but this is truly something else,” he said.
“Thieves have clearly scoped the area and deliberately targeted this garden and shrub.
“Knowing the family personally, it is deeply sickening for them.
“They are a very generous and thoughtful family and give up so much of their time to support their neighbours, friends and local community.”
Cowdenbeath Police are investigating the incident and have urged anyone with information to contact them on 101.