Every summer, several of our career panhandlers do the “flower man” gimmick. They approach couples, handing the woman a “free” flower and then asking the man for a few dollars for a tip. Ever wonder where they get their flowers? This e-mail from one of my blog’s readers sheds some light on the subject:
I read your blog and really loved the photo of the “Flower Thief” several months ago. Miraculously, my garden was spared last summer, and perennials recovered this spring. Early Monday morning the “thief” was back. I did not catch him, but the pattern was exactly the same. The hydrangea bushes were “beheaded by about 20 heads…broken and cut with about 5 inches of stem. The pattern… is to continue to rape the garden as the flowers bloom, therefore a continuous supply of floral to sell to either tourist or restaurants downtown.
About 4 years ago, I caught him loading up an old suitcase with my roses. It was a good story…tracked him down, with the help of a couple of bicycle cops, and captured him at The Peabody. He was on the run!
I e-mailed her back and asked for a location where this is happening. She lives in the South Main district but closer to Beale than to G.E. Patterson and the art galleries (put it this way: if she wanted Gus’s Chicken she wouldn’t have far to walk). Panhandlers could run down there in 5 minutes and pick flowers from her garden and then be back on Beale, Union, and Second charging money for the stolen flowers.