WINDSOR, ONT. -- Eighty-nine-year-old Shirley Horwitz woke up to a disturbing view Saturday morning, her newly installed plants were ripped from her garden.

“Thieves came in the middle of the night while I was sleeping and stole my landscaping,” says Horwitz.

She felt a sentimental attachment to these plants because her grandson, Adam Kunder, recently installed them as a surprise 89th birthday present.

Kunder works as a firefighter with Windsor Fire and Rescue Services. In between his shift work, he and his cousins spent a 12-hour day planting the perfect garden to brighten up his grandmother’s day.

“The best part was her just talking to people walking by, people complimenting her on her landscaping. She was just so excited to have a fresh look,” Kunder says this was meaningful to his grandma because she hasn’t been able to leave the house due to COVID-19. 

“I waited a long time to have them. I was very happy to look at the job that they did,” says Horwitz.

The plants cost around $1,000. However, it wasn’t the financial loss that was the most devastating; it’s the now crippled sense of security.

“I don’t feel very safe now,” says Horwitz. “I keep looking out my window and it’s a scary feeling to know someone invaded my property. I keep thinking they’re going to come back.”

stolen plants

The holes in Horwitz’s garden wouldn’t be an eyesore for long. Kunder shared pictures of the incident on Facebook which caught the attention of a local landscape company.

“When I came into work on Monday, a few other of our staff members said ‘did you see this story on Facebook? I really think we should do something,’” says Jay Ribait, customer service manager at Lakeshore Landscaping.

On Wednesday morning, the team at Lakeshore Landscaping showed up to Horwitz’s home all geared up with shovels, gloves and a truckload of plants to restore her yard.

“I told Shirley, whoever did this to you, don’t let it get the better of you,” says Ribait. “You still come out here enjoy this space.”

Although this incident has been traumatizing for Horwitz, the kindness of strangers gives her hope that there is still good in the world.

“I can’t believe there are such wonderful people in this community and I don’t know how to thank them.”

The family has contacted the Windsor police.

“I totally understand and sympathize, it feels like your property is violated. That’s not fair and bottom line it’s not legal,” says Windsor Police Service public information officer Sgt. Steve Betteridge.

He encourages neighbours to keep an eye out for each other and be aware of surroundings.

“Cases such as theft with no suspect can be reported online,” he says. “Even with no suspect information it is very important that we report all crimes so we can allocate resources accordingly.”