Neighbour fined $400, hit with criminal record for cuttings flowers

The Sydney couple installed security cameras around their home after suspecting a thief.

A green thumb has been caught red-handed stealing flowers from a nearby home in the middle of the night, with a couple reportedly catching her out by installing home security cameras after hydrangea heads disappeared from their yard.

On December 8, ten flowers disappeared from John and Tigi Coplestone's property in Palm Beach, situated on Sydney's northern beaches, and it was then the couple installed CCTV around their home suspecting a thief.

More clippings disappeared days before Christmas and then a third incident occurred three weeks later, A Current Affair reported.

The house is reportedly known by locals in the area as "Hydrangea House", and the couple soon discovered the culprit. They checked their home security footage and saw a woman approach their hydrangea bush, secateurs in hand, so the Coplestone's decided to contact the police.

The woman was caught stealing flowers from this Palm Beach home, with the hydrangea bush close to the white fence.
A woman in Palm Beach now has a criminal record for stealing flowers from another home. Source: A Current Affair

A criminal record, $400 fine and expensive gift

The woman responsible for stealing the hydrangeas from the Coplestone's property, later identified as prominent Sydney architect Annabelle Chapman, was charged for damaging the flowers with the intent of stealing. The awkward neighbour dispute has since seen her record a criminal conviction as well as a $400 fine.

She was reportedly remorseful in court and bought the couple an expensive gift to apologise for her behaviour.

Hydrangeas pictured outside their home.
The Coplestone's home is known locally as the 'Hydrangea House'. Source: Daily Telegraph

Even if flower heads dangle over a property's fence they are still owned by the homeowner, with any damage or tampering with regarded as illegal, lawyer Sam Macedone told A Current Affair.

"Hydrangeas are a very expensive flower nowadays... to just help yourself to them is a crime," he said. "You can't take it, it's not yours, so even if you snip it and take it away, it's not yours, it's someone else's flower."

Another plant thief was caught red-handed last week after a two-month ordeal which started when a resident in Adelaide had their garden plants disappear from their yard. Determined to find the culprit, the resident placed Apple Airtags into the remaining plants and later tracked them down when they went missing.

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