Taking flowers can lead to cuffs

PO‘IPU — Yes, you can get arrested for taking flower plants from private property.

This came as news to Mary Holzman, who said she is bewildered over a Sept. 10 arrest, a full four days after taking plants from Kukui‘ula Shopping Village.

She is facing fourth-degree theft charges, but was a no-show for her court date last week.

The Kaua‘i Police Department arrest report notes that Holzman was at Kukui‘ula Shopping Village on Sept. 6, when a groundskeeper apparently noticed she was cutting plants from the landscaping on private property. After notifying security, a follow-up complaint was filed with KPD.

According to KPD, officers did not initiate this arrest, but are required to respond to a formal complaint and to investigate if a police report is filed. If the investigation results in discovering that a law has been broken then KPD is required to enforce the law.

In this case, the flowers were discovered with Holzman when the police came to question her about the incident.

Holzman, 48, said she took three torch ginger, also know as etlingera elatior, a pink perennial with petals and seeds known as much for their high antioxidant properties as their beauty.

She said she collected the flowers for a vase in her house and that she got a phone call from KPD two days later asking where she lived.

Apparently, Holzman recently divorced and her car was still registered to her ex-husband’s name at the old address.

She claims the officers wanted to speak to her but that they didn’t elaborate on what it was about. The mother of four said she worried that one of her children might have gotten into trouble.

The following morning she said KPD came to her Koloa apartment. After a brief discussion and reading her the Miranda warning, they arrested her at 8:40 a.m.

Holzman said she obviously won’t take plants again but was upset about being arrested over the incident. She is a swimming coach and a physical therapist, and said this incident could have consequences that she believes are out of touch with the crime — especially since she doesn’t believe she committed one.

Holzman did not appear for her Oct. 5 arraignment. A bench warrant was issued by Fifth District Judge Trudy Senda.

A spokesperson for Kukui‘ula Shopping Village said the management was not aware that an arrest was made, and that they were not interested in pressing charges at the time.

 The report was made with notice to KPD to offer a “stern warning” to the suspect that police would be called if discovered taking plants on the property again.

Management reported that a landscaper observed someone cutting entire plants and loading them in to a car. This was not the first time they witnessed the person taking plants and when the landscaper approached the suspect fled, they added.

The mall does have the occasional tourist or resident asking to take a flower or a tea leaf to use in a blessing ceremony, according to management.

They were concerned with the taking of several plants without permission.

Management said the shopping center garden offers a setting with several indigenous plants and is a big investment in materials and labor. The intent of the complaint was to ensure that people respect and honor the hard work of people to maintain the grounds.

KPD recommends to avoid arrest for something of this nature by not taking property without permission from the rightful owner. Without permission, the owner is within their right to report that property stolen.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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