Rare plants taken by octogenarian thieves

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The Independent Online

Two women in their eighties have been caught stealing plants on an organised pensioners' trip around the gardens of a stately home, police said yesterday. The women, aged 85 and 87 and said to be keen gardeners, were spotted pulling up flowers and tucking them into their handbags.

Two women in their eighties have been caught stealing plants on an organised pensioners' trip around the gardens of a stately home, police said yesterday. The women, aged 85 and 87 and said to be keen gardeners, were spotted pulling up flowers and tucking them into their handbags.

Police who found seven plants hidden away, including a rare dodecathon worth £40, primulas and geraniums.

The pair, said to be well-dressed and respectable, said they were merely helping to pull weeds from the borders at Aberglasney Gardens in Carmarthenshire. The women have not been named but had to give statements before they were allowed to rejoin the bus with 50 other pensioners from south Wales.

A police spokesman said the women were given "suitable words of advice". He added: "We decided not to prosecute the women after taking their age into consideration."

Graham Rankin, director of operations at the gardens, has received a letter of apology from the organisers of the trip.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. It isn't the sort of thing you would expect from two old ladies. They were well-dressed and looked the picture of respectability."

He said the head gardeners would have helped out if they women had asked for cuttings.

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