Owner of bonsai trees stolen from Auckland garden asks thieves to care for them

A man who had dozens of bonsai stolen from his Mt Albert back garden said his biggest fear was that his precious trees would be destroyed or not cared for.

The man’s son Nick Yu said his father had tended the trees for four or five hours a day for decades and considered them his babies.

“He was heartbroken at the theft but he is a resilient man and he said well, it shows someone really likes my trees,” Yu said.

“What my father really wants is for the trees to be looked after and loved. His biggest fear is that someone will panic and destroy them.”

Yu, who works as a dentist in Melbourne, said when he was a child in Taiwan his father would take the family for walks pointing out different trees and rock formations.

“He loves rocks and trees and he has incorporated them in his bonsai,” Yu said.

“The style of bonsai he grows is very unique looking, with roots wrapping around rocks.

“The time and effort he has put in is obvious. They really are like works of art.”

Yu said individual trees were worth thousands of dollars which he thought was probably the reason for the theft.

“My dad said perhaps the person or people needed money, that lockdown had been hard on them,” Yu said.

“We don’t blame anyone because we know there are people really suffering at the moment, but really he just wants them cared for.”

If the bonsai were stolen by someone who simply loved the miniature trees Yu said they should have just asked his father for one.

“My father is a generous man and if someone really wanted one he would have given them one,” he said.

Bonsai are notoriously tricky to care for without the right knowledge and require special feeding and pruning.

“I know because my dad gave me some and I struggled to keep any of them alive,” Yu said.

But Yu’s dad thinks the person or people who took them knew what they were doing.

“They took the rarest and most valuable ones and it was a big job. There were 46 taken so they knew what they were doing,” Yu said.

It is not the first time the man had bonsai stolen. Eighteen years ago a dozen or so trees were taken from his front garden.

“My father believes bonsai need to be enjoyed by everyone and he used to have them out the front so the neighbours and passersby could see them,” Yu said.

“People always commented and my father really loved that others could enjoy them.”

After they were stolen the man reluctantly moved his collection to the back garden and installed a lockable gate.

During lockdown the man spent more time tending the bonsai and his wife had time to take photos of the collection.

“Up until then there were no photos of them,” Yu said.

“My mother was admiring the collection and decided to take some photos during lockdown so if he doesn’t get them back at least he has something of them.”

Police were investigating and said the bonsai theft could be compared to stealing fine art.

“This should be compared to the loss of irreplaceable art and involves a man’s life-long commitment to their care,” Acting Detective Sergeant Thomas Malcolm said.

• Anyone with information relating to the incident is urged to call police on 105, and quote file number 211122/3956.

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