Chipped in the bud! Tiny-tech to tackle Sidmouth thieves

Park bosses hope tiny devices will nip wholesale plant pilfering in the bud.

PLANTS are being micro-chipped in a high-tech bid to weed out green-fingered villains who help themselves to Sidmouth’s floral delights.

Park bosses hope the tiny devices will nip wholesale pilfering of the town’s horticultural highlights in the bud.

The microchips, similar to those used in animals, have been randomly placed in displays as part of a quest to save tax-payers thousands of pounds a year.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) says each miniature piece of technology costs just a few pence- and its experts didn’t beat around the bush over fears gardeners have become criminals.

“Plant thefts have been a problem this year,” said Mark Pollard, the authority’s parks development officer.

“It has been a bit dispiriting and a waste of council tax payers’ money.

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“Microchips have come down in price and now only cost a matter of pence, making it feasible for us to use them as a deterrent.

“They last forever, even if the plant dies.”

Mr Pollard, 51, who has worked for the council for eight years, told the Herald plants have been stolen on a wholesale basis from Sidmouth’s Connaught and Blackmore Gardens.

He added each microchip has a unique 14 digit number.

“If someone is found with one of our plants, there can be no argument - it is definitely stolen goods,” said Mr Pollard.

“And the reading technology for microchips is all over the place.

“Herbs and bedding plants have been stolen and specimen plants have been targeted.

“People carrying out these thefts know what they are looking for. We suspect they are gardeners or people stealing to sell the plants on.”

Other thefts have occurred in Axminster, Exmouth and Honiton.