What can the home owner do to minimise Bonsai theft?

A tree stolen recently by French bonsai artist François JEKER, as yet not recovered

Yet another Bonsai has been reported as stolen and the world of bonsai is rocked and the individual heartbroken. EVERY bonsai is precious to its owner as it is a living life force that has been nurtured, styled and cared for, in many cases over many years. My heart goes out to those who have lost. The very nature of Bonsai is peace and friendship and to have this tarnished by a theft kills a small part of what we cherish.

A couple of years ago A British artist had a LARGE collection of trees that I must have been stolen to order, The Artist had just won a Gold medal at the most prestigious gardening event in the UK, The Chelsea Flower Show. Stealing rare, unsellable items is done for a buyer, that rich buyer pays the thief, the buyer get the spoils, insurance pays out and everyone’s happy. BUT this is not the case with bonsai because the artist/grower usually has a close affinity with his work and ‘money’ is often not enough.

One of the main factors determining a bonsai value on the open market is a legitimate provenance, or ownership history. What thieves rarely recognize is that once bonsai’s have been stolen from a garden, they have no provenance. They can’t be sold, so they’re really worth nothing to a ‘legitimate’ collector, problem is he can’t show it to anyone. I am sure that sometimes the bonsai is so hard to get rid of that the thieves just have to dump it.

I have visited gardens where the owners has chained their trees to the bench, it ugly and not in harmony with the whole bonsai way of life. So be cautious when asked “how much is that tree worth” protect your address, know the people who visit your garden, be wary of workmen or visitors to your neighbours, have security lights and good fencing. Or as many do own a BIG DOG!