The day began with no foreshadowing of the events to come. On the morning of Wednesday, October 14, manager Cindy Augenstein-no, not Augustine-was strolling through the Britton Place duplexes in Arlington. Just the day before, one hundred square feet of hybrid Bermuda sod had been planted and watered near a retaining wall of the one-year-old complex. Right over there, near those nice bushes-
The grass was gone. Some seedy character had absconded with the new sod. Augenstein knew the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence, but this was ridiculous. She called the landscaping company to make sure they had indeed planted what someone had now plucked up. They had.
“This sort of thing isn’t unusual at all,” says Matthew Wortham, president of three construction companies in the Metroplex, one of which built the duplex. “People will take anything that’s left out in the open. It’s just another day in the construction business.”
Augenstein says that the burglar left no clues. It was a clean job-there were no footprints, no trail or anything,” she admits. Since there were no witnesses, suspects, fingerprints, or evidence at all, the police department has documented the case under “field clear” and cannot assign an investigator to the case until some substantial evidence is provided.
While the crime of grass burglary is unusual, Wortham doesn’t rank sod-swiping as a heinous offense. “It could just be some little old lady who lives down the street and needs a few pieces of grass.”
The sod was replaced at the expense of Britton Place’s parent company, Mattom Inc., for an estimated value of $23. Augenstein isn’t sure whether or not grass burglary is covered by the company’s insurance.
Wortham says that he isn’t planning on taking any precautions to prevent future grass burglaries, mainly because there isn’t anything that can be done about the grass-stained thieves at large. “All we can do is file a report and turn it over to the police and hope that we can get more protection in the future,” Wortham says. “That’s really all we can do.”