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Hydrangea thieves target blossoms in Little Neck

The hydrangea thieves who have clipped bushes in Bellerose have expanded their coverage area into Little Neck.

Little Neck Hills, which stretches from Northern Boulevard to the Long Island Expressway and from Marathon Parkway to Little Neck Parkway, was the most recent neighborhood to be victimized by the nighttime horticultural bandits.

“I have two hydrangea bushes — one on the side of my house and the other in my backyard,” said Regina Mooney, of Rushmore Terrace in Little Nick. “I saw the flowers on Sunday, and Monday the flowers were gone.”

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

She said the bush on the side of her house had about 25 blossoms, which were a beautiful blue-green color, but after the thieves hit her bush only the wilted ones were left. She said her hydrangea was so barren that even her husband noticed what had happened.

Lucy DeFranceschi, a 30-year Bellerose resident who lives on 247th Street between 80th and 85th avenues, said the hydrangea thieves have been striking in her neighborhood every year for the past five years.

She said they cut her hydrangea bushes in the beginning of July, and about two weeks after she lost her puffy flowers, one of her neighbors at 248th Street between Union Turnpike and 84th Avenue had her bushes clipped.

“They really did a good job,” she said. “They cut all of it out.”

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 at the wholesale level for $1.50 to $2.

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

Mooney said this year she is sure someone is stealing her plants. Last year she thought a neighbor might have cut the bush because it was hanging over too far onto their shared driveway. But, she said, when 160 of the 200 tulips she planted in her front yard were cut at the stem just before blooming, she knew flower thieves were lurking.

In an informal canvass of the area, Mooney, who takes her 16- month-old son for walks around the streets of Little Neck Hills, said she has seen other hydrangea bushes in the neighborhood that have been clipped.

“I noticed two bushes clipped when I was walking around,” she said. “An elderly woman who lives down the street had a bush that was every color of the rainbow. It is now all gone.”

She said the thieves seemed to have moved over to her neck of the woods from Bellerose. Mooney said one of her neighbors, who has a hanging hydrangea bush on her porch, had all the plants on the porch stolen one night except the hydrangea.

During a christening a few weeks ago that had hydrangeas all around, Mooney said, “I thought to myself, ‘My what beautiful hydrangeas.’” A week or so after the event, she said, her bushes were clipped.

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

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