Sept. 11 2018 12:00 AM

Thieves “sod off” with woman’s roll of sod in daring daylight turf heist.


It’s often said that thieves will steal anything that isn’t nailed down — or that hasn’t yet grown roots. A woman in Paradise Hills, California lost her brand-new lawn when thieves simply picked it up and took it, according to a report published on KFMB-TV News 8’s website.

Her landscape contractor had dropped off the rolled-up sod earlier, planning to carpet her front yard with it. A surveillance video shows two men pulling up shortly after that, rushing onto her property and grabbing the big spool of yet-to-be-installed turf, then comically trying to stash it in the trunk of their car. It didn’t fit.

“It’s almost 16 feet long and weighs 650 pounds,” says Madonna Hanes, the turf’s rightful owner. "I couldn’t fathom that they would steal it in broad daylight. They tried to stick 16 feet of turf into a trunk that’s only two feet deep. It made no sense to me.”

She speculates that the theft may have been an inside job, as the spool was partially hidden by a fence. “You wouldn’t know it was there unless you were tipped off or walked by.”

However it happened, when Hanes woke up the next morning, the lawn was gone. “The first thing I thought was, ‘my neighbors probably have that on tape.’” After a four-hour search, the incriminating footage was found.

In it, the two men can be seen pulling up in a black Nissan Altima, walking straight to the spool and struggling a bit with the weight of it. Less than two minutes later, they take off with most of it hanging out the back of the car.

“I feel sick to my stomach,” says Hanes, who just moved to her home a month ago. “I didn’t eat all day. It's the worst feeling; you buy a piece of property and you're being robbed already of things that are on it.”

The pair left a breadcrumb trail of bits of turf on the street as they drove away. She tried to follow the trail but lost it about a block from her house. She hopes that someone will recognize the vehicle or the two men.

"I can’t catch them just yet, but at least I saw how they did it,” says Hanes, who called police to report the theft.

The stolen sod is valued at just over $900, but that’s not all this homeowner is missing. The thieves also took away her sense of security.

“It'll take me some time,” Hanes says. “However, I think I’m going to be a good candidate for some video cameras of my own, now that my neighbor’s footage gave me peace of mind.”