Operation Strawberry

For those of you who were over here on Monday, you may remember I had suffered a great injustice. The strawberry plant I bought on returning from Italy in April had started to bear fruit, which was then stolen from me in a most brutal manner. I feel I have been wronged in the most extreme way and have decided to set up Operation Strawberry to find justice for myself and my garden.

The aim of the inquiry:
To find the thief who thought it was ok to enter a garden not their own and help themself to the fruit they found there.

Statement from the injured party:
At 5.10pm on Sunday 7th July 2013, I arrived home from work. I went straight into the garden as it was hot and I wanted to sit down and read for a bit. Near the table is a strawberry plant. The day before, there was one strawberry which was almost at the point of being ready to eat. I had decided to give it one more day to go a bit redder. On the day in question, I sat down to read and looked at the strawberry plant and saw that the strawberry was no longer there.

Victim presents Exhibit A (photograph of crime scene):

image

Victim impact evidence:
The loss of the strawberry has caused me great distress. I worry about leaving the other blossoming strawberries to go to work. I feel unsafe in my own garden and have thought about getting rid of the strawberry plants altogether, to avoid the possibility of further heartache, should the thief return. I worry for my cherry tree, plum tree and tomato plants and have taken to counting the budding fruit five times a day. This has been a difficult time for me.

The suspects:

image

Suspect A – the fattest pigeon the world has ever seen
Suspect B – a human
Suspect C – a bat
Suspect D – the wind
Suspect E – the feisty squirrel

The evidence against Suspect A:
Suspect A, the fat pigeon, has been a regular in the garden for over 18 months. The victim claims to have seen him strutting around eating the bread that she puts out. She has rarely seen him fly and thinks he would find it a great strain to do so, given his body weight. She has seen him fly from the garden to the fence to perch but very little other movement. Given the height of the strawberry at the time of its disappearance, the pigeon would have had to be hovering in mid air to have got a good peck and dislodged it. This seems unlikely, given its dislike of flying in general. An authority on the matter (Google) tells me that wild birds do like to eat berries but there appears to be little solid evidence to bring into this courtroom about the specific situation of pigeons and strawberries.

You may leave the stand now, Fat Pigeon, unless you would like to offer any closing statements.

Fat Pigeon: “Has anyone got any bread I can eat, please?”

The evidence against Suspect B:
Suspect B, a human, is dealing with a lot of hurdles to get to the garden and the strawberry. Firstly, all the gardens on the road are joined together and are attached to the all the gardens behind the houses on a parallel road. There are no alleyways in between the gardens and no access to the general public. A human would have had to contend with a lot of gardens and fences before reaching the garden in question and in so doing, would have passed many other opportunities for fruit pilfering. There were no footprints or signs of forced entry in or around the garden. As such, it seems unlikely that a human is responsible for the crime.

You may now leave the stand, humans. Would you like to offer any closing statements?

Humans: “We could never steal from such a fantastic blogger. We definitely didn’t do it.”

The evidence against Suspect C:
Suspect C, a bat, is known to have a taste for sweet fruits but generally sticks to things growing higher up in trees. The strawberry plant would be far too low for a bat to consider it a snack worth going for. While the victim recalls seeing bats fly low over the garden during summer evenings, the time of the day that the crime was committed is at odds with the known waking hours of bats. The theft must have happened before 5.10pm, the time when bats are generally not known to be active. It seems unlikely that the bat was involved in the strawberry theft.

You may now leave the stand, bat. Do you wish to give any closing statements?

Bat: “Zzzzzzzzzz…..”

The evidence against Suspect D:
Suspect D, the wind, has been responsible for other fruit destruction in the garden, the victim says. The plums and cherries have all had to contend with unusual summer weather consisting of lower temperatures and higher winds than usual. It seems the wind could have played a part. The forensic evidence team returned to the scene of the crime the following day and shook the branches of the strawberry plant but no strawberries were seen to fall from the plant. Whilst leaving the property, one member of the team accidentally brushed lightly against the plum tree and a small green unripe plum fell to the ground, thus demonstrating the different effects the wind has on the different plants. It seems that, while plums dislodged and fell quite easily, the strawberries were more solidly affixed to their branches. The team also scoured the area at the time the crime was first reported and found no evidence of a fallen strawberry. It is unlikely, therefore, that the wind played a part in this crime.

You may leave the stand, wind. Do you have any closing statements?

Wind: “Sorry about the plums and the cherries. It was an accident.”

The evidence against Suspect E:
Suspect E, the feisty squirrel, is seen in the above photograph braving even the Fat Pigeon to get near the bread. We have evidence, therefore, that this Feisty Squirrel will face intimidating situations if the reward is a tasty snack. The squirrel has a taller body and stands on his back legs, bringing him to the correct height to be able to reach the strawberry plant where it sits on a slightly raised platform. The recognised authority on squirrels (Mumsnet.com) has a forum on which many fruit-growing members of the public have battled with the loss of strawberries via squirrel theft. Given the previous convictions in this area, it seems likely that the squirrel is the culprit. The victim recalls seeing this Feisty Squirrel in the garden often and has previously thought affectionately about him, as he was doing no harm. It now appears that there has been some premeditation to this crime, as the many visits by the squirrel were likely used to keep an eye on the growing fruit and know when it was ready for picking. It had obviously overheard the plan to eat it the following day and knew it was his chance to strike. It also seems, given the timing, that the squirrel had been building up a picture of when the house (and garden) were empty, the inhabitants being out at work, and chose precisely his moment to strike, using the information he had gathered over the months.

In light of the evidence, Feisty Squirrel, I hearby convict you of the crime of strawberry theft from Miss LL Maisey and order you to pay a fine of fifty nuts. You are also under a restraining order which prevents you from being within 100 metres of the garden boundary. Should you attempt to enter the garden illegally, you will be shouted at and the victim shall run at you with raised arms and yell obscenities.

This court is adjourned.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. I was sure it was the pigeon! 🙂

    Reply

    • He seemed a likely culprit but the evidence against him was found to be inconclusive. The suspicious absence of the squirrel from the garden since the incident also points towards his guilt whereas the pigeon was spotted yesterday in his usual spot by the bread.

      Reply

  2. See?! You law degree has paid off! You should be a PI. We could be a kooky American/Brit detective team.

    I think I have something here. You will cook for me and I will clean your Crocs and we will solve mysteries.

    Reply

  3. Absolutely the squirrel! The cut is too neat. The pigeon would have pecked (or that is how birds attack my strawberries). LLM backyard detective!

    Reply

  4. Naughty squirrels….perhaps you should scatter some acorns around the strawberry plants in order to divert their attention…they do prefer acorns more right? (what I’ve learned from watching Chip and Dale…LOL)

    Reply

  5. We have problems with squirrels here to. They sure do enjoy strawberries.

    Reply

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