Crime has no need for long arm of the lawn

A lady who had fake turf stolen from her cafe had no need to call for lawn and order after it was returned to her within 24 hours thanks to internet gossip.

Sharon Ellis, owner of Walkway cafe, in the Martlets, Burgess Hill, started her day as usual when she arrived at her cafe at 6am on Saturday.

Sharon Ellis (owner) of Walkway Cafe, Burgess Hill grateful to have her grass back after it was stolen Saturday morning. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140729-165522001

Sharon Ellis (owner) of Walkway Cafe, Burgess Hill grateful to have her grass back after it was stolen Saturday morning. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140729-165522001

She walked passed the front garden, furnished with a carpet of fake turf, into her cafe and started baking cakes and scones.

But when she popped back out to the garden to arrange the tables and chairs at about 7.30am she found her lawn had been stolen.

Sharon said: “It was there when I went in and an hour and a half later it was gone.

“It’s only our fourth week of opening. I was really upset at the time.

“The Lidl staff were lovely and everyone was asking ‘what’s going on?’ ‘where’s my grass gone?’

“We’ve got furniture outside the cafe and it was all on grey slabs and it looked so miserable.

“There must have been at least two men to roll it up and carry it away because it would be very heavy.”

Her daughter Katie quickly came to her distraught mother’s rescue and posted a photo of the garden on the ‘Burgess Hill Uncovered’ Facebook page.

She accompanied the photo with a message asking for any witnesses to come forward with information in the hope that someone might grass up the thieves.

She asked: “Did anyone see a young man in a hoodie carrying a rolled up piece of plastic lawn? My mum is gutted we haven’t even been open for a month yet.

“I know we won’t get it back it just sickens me that my mum was in the cafe while it happened.”

The post received more than 40 responses in one day from residents giving their empathy or showing their outrage at the petty crime.

Andrew Mark Sains said: “That is just such a sad reflection of what people think these days. WHY..What the hell are they going to do with it. Sell it?

“Well I hope the kick of knicking it was worth it forgods sake!”

Alex Enki Sampson said: “Aside from there being little or nothing for whoever stole it to gain from it, it’s just downright rude and detrimental to community spirit.”

By Saturday evening Jeff Laurence, a member of staff from Burgess Appliances, in Church Walk, got in touch with Katie and told her the £500 lawn had been left on his store’s front garden.

Sharon said she was amazed that the Facebook post had received such a strong response.

She said: “Katie text me to say ‘you’ll never guess what. You’ve got your grass back’.

“I said to her at the time, ‘that will never work’, and she said ‘well it’s worth a try’.”

Jeff returned the lawn to the cafe the next morning. Sharon said he told her he thought his luck was in when he discovered it lying in front of his shop because he had been looking to buy some new grass for his garden at home.

Looking back on the events Sharon said she found it quite funny and the huge response from the community really restored her faith in humanity.

She said: “I’m just delighted to have my grass back.

“It wasn’t funny at the time but it was amusing afterwards.”