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Hydrangea thievery returns to Bellerose

For the fifth year in a row, residents of Bellerose are the victims of horticultural highwaymen who pinch the blossoms off their hydrangea bushes.

By Adam Kramer

The hydrangea thieves are back.

For the fifth year in a row, residents of Bellerose are the victims of horticultural highwaymen who pinch the blossoms off their hydrangea bushes.

“Every year at the beginning of July someone comes into the area between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. when it is dark and cuts the hydrangea flowers right off,” said Lucy DeFranceschi, a 30-year Bellerose resident who lives on 247th Street between 80th and 85th avenues. She did not want to give her exact address. “It is not just on my block, other blocks get hit.”

Hydrangeas bloom in the beginning of July and keep their light blue and purplish flowers, which look like giant puffy snowballs, throughout the month.

The DeFranceschis were not the only ones on their block to get hit — two other nearby families had their bushes clipped, she said. Her neighbors could not be reached for comment.

DeFranceschi said that this year only one of her many bushes had been attacked by the hydrangea bandits. One in her front yard got chopped while the other one was protected by a light that goes on when anyone gets near it. The hydrangeas in her backyard, which is surrounded by a fence, also escaped a trimming.

DeFranceschi said she and her neighbors have been told over the years that flower stores sell the hydrangea flowers for a dollar apiece.

Richard Scordo, co-owner of The Hillside Garden Center on Hillside Avenue between 257th and 258th streets, said people cut the flowers to dry them. He said one dried flower can be sold wholesale for $1.50 to $2.

The hydrangea bush, which averages 5 feet, sells for about $40, Scordo said.

In 1998, DeFranceschi said she saw a truck with a Massachusetts license plate parked on her street and thought it was the neighbor’s gardener. She described the man standing at the back of the truck, which was carrying a water bed to preserve flowers, as a young man with flower clippers. When she asked him what he was doing, he told her to mind “my [expletive] business.”

This year, she said, the man who clipped her bushes must have been a gardener because of the professional way he trimmed the shrub.

“He didn’t cut the whole bush but a lot of it,” she said. “He cut the middle out and on a slant.”

Her husband, Bruno DeFranceschi, said that about a week ago, around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. he heard a car pass by, then stop and park. When he opened his front door, he said, the car took off.

The next day his neighbor came over saying his bush was clipped and he noticed the hydrangea on his front lawn had been trimmed. He said the thieves do not take the whole bush or kill it — they just take a nice piece out of the shrub.

“You don’t see it right away, but it happens every year,” he said. “You can’t blame them for trying to get some money, but you miss it when it is cut.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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