Thursday, February 01, 2007

Funny Crime

A funny thing happened on the way to Manalapan.

A tractor-trailer loaded with 10 Medjool date palms destined for The Ritz-Carlton was stolen before it could make its delivery from the Groundworks Nursery west of Boynton Beach.

The trees, valued at $50,000, were scheduled to arrive Monday.

"Can you believe it?" hotel spokeswoman Crissy Poorman said. "We want them back."

According to Poorman, the truck has been recovered, but the trees are missing.

Each of the 10 palms is 30 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds.

"They're beautiful. They're very graceful," she said.

The Medjool variety originated in Morocco and was favored among royalty. The hotel plans to make them part of its $60 million expansion and March 5 reopening.

"We are fond of our fronds," Ritz-Carlton general manager Brad Cance said in a statement released Friday. "We hope the local authorities catch the palm poachers as soon as possible.

"We would love to see them make their way home," he said Friday evening.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is handling the case.

"The crime occurred outside of our jurisdiction," Manalapan Police Chief Clay Walker said. "If they [the trees] had been in Manalapan, they never would have been stolen."

Investigators ask anyone with information to call their local police department or Crime Stoppers at (800) 458-8477.

The nursery is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the palms, and The Ritz-

Carlton is offering a VIP dinner at Angle, its new specialty restaurant.

The reward meal would, of course, include hearts of palm.


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