In Lawrence there’s a law against harming plants. And every once in a while I’ve seen people arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of violating it. Here’s one recent incident that happened on the University of Kansas campus, although in this case the alleged plant-harmer is still at large.
Last week, according to the online KU police crime log, someone reported that a vehicle went off the road overnight, did some doughnuts and damaged the grass near the Library Annex, 1880 Westbrooke St. over on West Campus. The case is still open, according to the crime log.
Not that I’m not curious, but being pretty busy covering things like murder and rape cases I haven’t dug into any of the other harming-plants arrests to see what they were about. The ordinance appears it would cover everything from angrily ripping up your neighbor’s flower bed to stealing a snack from a fruit tree that isn’t yours (unless it belongs to the city).
Here’s the city’s ordinance against harming plants, a category of criminal damage to property:
No person shall willfully injure or destroy any plant, tree, vine, or flower, the property of another, standing on or attached to the land of another, or shall pick, destroy, or carry away therefrom or in any way interfere with any part of the flowers or fruit thereof; except that this section shall not prohibit the picking or carrying away of the ripe fruit of any tree, plant, or vine on any property owned by the City of Lawrence; provided, however, that no ripe fruit of any tree, plant or vine located in a public right-of-way or leased to another party shall be so picked or carried away.
— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.
Broken windows at Waxman Candles lead to cleanup work at the store and a felony charge for the suspect
All year round one can stroll by the northernmost corner of Massachusetts Street and watch the change of the seasons through the displays at Waxman Candles.
Those who peer into the large windows at 609 Massachusetts will catch a glimpse of the store's latest paraffin, beeswax and soy wax creations in the form of votive, snowmen and Jayhawk candles, among many others.
For the time being, however, the view is slightly obscured.
Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday owners Bob and Deb Werts received a call from Lawrence police officers saying that someone had broken out two of the store's windows.
Down at the store they found glass all along the inside of the business and a few broken pieces of merchandise, Deb Werts said.
"It was all over. We had to take apart displays, re-wrap products," she said. "There was a lot of cleanup after that."
They even had to go around the store and turn potted plants upside down to make sure all the glass was removed, Bob Werts said.
About a half hour after police called them about the broken windows, Elija Walker, 37, was booked into the Douglas County Jail, booking logs show. He now faces a single felony charge of criminal damage to property.
Fortunately nothing was stolen, Bob Werts said. They were told the damage was done with a type of club.
Either way, Bob Werts said his candle business doesn't quite lend itself to a lucrative heist.
"We sell inexpensive, heavy products," he laughed.
Now the broken windows have been covered up and will soon be fixed, Bob Werts said.
Damage between the two windows is estimated to be around $1,500, according to a Lawrence Police Department report.
This is not the first — or even the second — time Waxman's windows have been broken since the business opened at that location in 1993, Bob and Deb Werts agreed.
Drunken pedestrians have been pushed through windows before, a semi-truck once tore off an awning and for a time the back windows were kicked out fairly frequently, they said.
Perhaps that's part of the price of doing business downtown, Bob Werts said.
"It's a fight to be here," he said.
While some may be quick to lay blame on University of Kansas students, Bob Werts was not so quick to agree. While students may well be a factor in some instances of downtown damage, they also contribute a lot.
"KU sent a lot of good, responsible students our way," he said. "I built this place with good, responsible KU students."
In the end, what's left to do is clean up the glass, shake it off and move forward, Bob and Deb Werts said.
"I'm down, but I'm not out. It does knock you down a bit, and it's a bit of work to get back because you've got to stop what you were doing and re-tool," Bob Werts said.
Walker is currently being held in the Douglas County Jail in lieu of a $1,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, when a date will be set for a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing a judge will determine if enough evidence exists to order Walker to stand trial.
I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.
"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun."
If Romeo and Juliet had survived their bitter ordeal and the rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues, what would they have done for Valentine's Day? And is an (alleged) crime committed as an act of love less of a crime?
One person was issued a notice to appear in court after an ordeal at a Lawrence grocery store surrounding Valentine's Day gifts.
Around 10:45 p.m. Friday an intoxicated person entered Dillons at 1015 W. 23rd St. and picked out two pieces of Valentine's Day merchandise, said Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley. The suspect then tried to leave the store without paying.
Phone in hand, a security guard confronted the suspect, McKinley said. The suspect then tried to knock the phone away, damaging it.
Afterward the suspect dropped the two items and left the store, McKinley said. The security guard called police and followed the suspect into the parking lot to record the suspect's license plate.
In the parking lot the suspect punched the security guard several times before leaving the scene, McKinley said. Responding officers found the suspect in a parking lot in the 1300 block of West 24th Street, where they issued a notice to appear in court on suspicion of theft, battery and criminal damage.
Further information was not immediately available.