After a string of vandalism and thefts at the John Henry Community Garden, steps are being taken by community members and city officials to prevent future problems.
Ray Friedrich, a community gardener at John Henry Community Garden, said that between July 22 and Aug. 9 there have been six incidents of trespassing, vandalism and theft of garden vegetables. Friedrich noted it's not just someone taking a vegetable or two but them coming with shopping bags and filling up the bags with vegetables.
"By stealing we’re not talking about someone stealing a tomato or something," Friedrich said. "We’re taking about people coming in with shopping bags and filling them with vegetables."
Although John Henry Community Garden is inside a public park, the gardeners do have to pay a fee for the plot of lot they use, Mayor Michelle Roman said. The vegetables belong to the plot owners and are not for anyone to take.
"These garden plots are for those particular people," Roman said.
Roman added that the city does have gardens where people can come to receive free vegetables.
Since those incidents, Friedrich and community members have formed a neighborhood watch, Lockport Police Department has increased patrol around the area and there has been signs put up. Friedrich said that there has not been problems since the increased police presence, the signs and community watch have started.
Friedrich said the community gardeners spend months of preparation to get the gardens ready and that they look forward to harvesting the gardens. He also noted that whatever food they don't use they donate to local food pantries.
Friedrich said they are looking at installing a camera as well.
Interim Police Chief Steven Preisch said no one has been charged for these incidents because they do not have a suspect to charge. He added that if someone does take a garden vegetable they know not to be theirs it would be a crime.