Sunnie Skoumal says if the man who stole all the plums off their backyard tree had only asked, she and her husband Denny would have been willing to share .
Instead, the person entered their fenced-off backyard and proceeded to strip almost all the fruit from the tree.
It happened sometime early Sunday morning, August 14.
“It disappeared like a dream,” Sunnie said.
“I’m really heartbroken.”
What made it worse was the fact the tree, after seven years of being patiently tended, had finally produced a full crop of the delicious Italian-variety plums that Denny likes.
“Those branches were loaded with plums,” said Sunnie, who planted the tree as a present for her husband.
“Finally, we got a bumper crop.”
Even worse, the plums were ripe enough for picking, but the couple had decided to leave them up for another week or two to achieve maximum sweetness.
Now, there was only a handful left.
And by the next morning, they were gone, too.
“That was bizarre,” Denny said.
“They came back.”
Sunnie said it was “scary” to think that someone was in their back yard, twice, while they were sleeping just a few feet away in their house.
On the day a Times reporter visited, there was just one lone surviving plum.
A neighbour told the couple they saw a suspicious male with a skateboard and backpack in the area around the time the theft would have taken place.
Denny and Sunnie have been living there 15 years without incident.
But lately, they said, things have begun to change.
Neighbours are complaining about a rise in petty theft, with items disappearing from backyards and car ports.
They wonder if it has something to do with the establishment of a homeless camp on the Nickomkl floodplain near 208 Street and Fraser Highway, which is about a 10-minute walk from their neighbourhood.
“Crime has risen (here) since the tent city set up,” Sunnie says.
Denny wonders if the homeless in Langley City have been displaced by other communities.
“Where did they come from?” he said.
Langley City, like all B.C. municipalities, has limited powers to control homeless camping thanks to a court decision that found homeless tents are legal in public spaces so long as they are taken down during the day.
Last year, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that when there aren’t enough shelter spaces in a community, banning sheltered outdoor sleeping violates fundamental rights.
The decision overturned a city of Abbotsford ban on sleeping overnight in city parks.