Billy Wilder has watched his labor of love disappear piece by piece.
A professional landscaper and Knightdale Chamber of Commerce volunteer, Wilder had to rebuild much of his 12-foot walk, wall and water fall outside the chamber building. He says thieves made off with about a pallet of flat, Mohave stone from the work as it was in progress.
“I didn’t realize there was going to be that much love in it,” says Wilder wryly.
A retired executive director of the Nurserymen and Landscape Contractors Associations, Wilder offered to put his skills to use when the chamber decided to remodel.
He returned to the chamber one morning recently to find pieces of stone for the walk missing. He had split the Mohave stone and laid it out for installing the night before. After the theft, he got more stone and did the work again.
After Wilder almost finished, the thieves struck again.
In the most recent hit -- July 31--- they made off with the rock around the water feature.
In all, Wilder estimates they took about a ton of stone.
“They apparently had a pickup truck with badly worn tires,” says Wilder. “They rode across the topsoil out front.”
The work is labor-intensive. Wilder progresses at about two feet an hour and that’s after he’s split the stone.
“It’s really sad that we’ve tried to beautify the chamber and the town and to have someone steal something like this from us,” says chamber executive director Jennifer Bryan. “We’re trying to make improvements and someone keeps coming in and helping themselves.”
Knightdale Police Lt. David Simmons said police have no leads.
“We don’t really have anything to go on,” says Simmons.
“Decorative rocks -- it has to be for somebody’s persona1 use,” he says. “It’s not like you could pawn it or resell it. It’d have to be somebody who’d use it in their own yard. There’s no real way to track rocks.”
Simmons says years ago when he was a sheriff’s deputy he saw landscaping theft from new developments, but it’s never happened in Knightdale before
Bryan and Wilder are hoping a member of the public will have seen the culprit or, at least, that knowing about it raises awareness so if anybody sees anything suspicious in the future they will call police.
For now, the chamber will be leaving more lights on, Bryan says.
If you have information that will help, call Detective Tracy Solomon at 217-2268.