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A Charleston mystery solved: Where did all the missing potted plants in Wagener Terrace go?

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By Rachel Canada’s own assessment, the front of her Charleston home looked more like a garden center at a hardware store than a porch.

Except the 32-year-old had no idea how the three dozen or so potted plants got there. They appeared in front of her Wagener Terrace rental house over two days beginning Feb. 24, she said.

But soon after the plants arrived in her yard, a surveillance video shared on her neighborhood Facebook page gave her pause.

Canada watched the clip of a woman moving through the darkness — a flower pot tucked under her arm — and approach a front porch.

The post amassed more than 100 comments.

"I just realized one of my nice pots are gone," someone commented.

"Check your plants when you get home!" another said. "People (are) taking plants with no remorse."

Canada stared at the video in bewilderment and zeroed in on the familiar face of the woman hoisting the plants.

She offered a comment of her own: "That's my roommate!"

'Oliver' the plant

Karen Myers, an artist who lives in the nearby West Side neighborhood, was preparing to teach a succulent gardening workshop on Sunday, when she realized a plant was missing.

As she took inventory of more than 100 potted plants in front of her Rutledge Avenue home, it dawned on her that a succulent she had named “Oliver” was nowhere to be found.

A Facebook post shared by a friend led her to Canada.

Myers, 34, showed up at Canada's place. Sure enough, there was Oliver.

"I got that plant maybe five years ago just as a little baby," Myers said. "If anything, that's what was most disappointing to me when the plant was gone, was all the investment of time I'd put into it, that I'd have to start all over again."

Myers posted a photo on Instagram of herself beaming, crouched beside the succulent.

“If you’re missing a plant," she said in the post, "it’s probably in (this) front yard."

Plants and a party

The surveillance video helped unraveled some of the mystery and led to an arrest.

In the footage, the woman crouches down, scoops up another plant into her free arm and walks away.

When she returns a short time later, Bill Mote bursts from his front door.

“Is there something I can help you with?” he asks.

Mote phoned Charleston police.

The woman shown in Mote’s Feb. 25 video was later identified and arrested on a petty larceny charge. But the 37-year-old was charged only in that theft.

The suspect, who lives in the same house as Canada, told police that a friend put her up to “finding potted plants to take to him,” according to an incident report. The woman could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, about three dozen potted plants whose origins are unclear remain in front of Canada's home on Darlington Avenue.

“To me, it’s tacky,” Canada said. “I’m more of a minimalist. This is just too much for me.”

All she wants is a plain porch again.

“Just come by or reach out,” Canada said. “I’m always open to reconnecting people with their plants. ... I do nothing with them.”

Lately, the flow of people retrieving their daffodils, mums and cacti has let up somewhat, Canada said. She fielded several Facebook messages this week from concerned residents in search of their potted plants.

“Mostly now, it’s just word of mouth,” she said. “We’ve met a lot of neighbors who have been really nice and really supportive.”

Next month, Canada added, she plans to have a block party in hopes of purging her yard of the potted plants for good. She hopes the plants’ owners come and take back what’s theirs.

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Reach Michael Majchrowicz at 843-607-1052. Follow him on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz.

Michael Majchrowicz is a reporter covering crime and public safety. He previously wrote about courts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Hoosier native, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.

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