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Caught on video: Thief steals rare fruit tree

Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 20:56:17-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Surveillance video shows a thief in action, digging away in a front yard and yanking at a tree rarely found in San Diego.

For Helen Pham and husband Kevin Duong, the large hole in their front lawn pales in size when compared to the holes in their hearts, after a Wednesday morning discovery at their home on Hughes Street in Redwood Village.

"Came out to work and found my tree missing," said Pham.

That tree is a tropical fruit tree known as an Ambarella, or June Plum. The Phams planted the $400 tree a few months ago after special-ordering it from Los Angeles.

Just before midnight Tuesday, video shows a thief at work, digging around the tree, before tugging it at from several angles. The video stops after about 45 seconds. The thief left behind pieces of a broken shovel. The tree, rarely found in San Diego, is not easy to grow in the area.

"I water it every day when it go to work," said Pham.

The tree holds special meaning for Pham, who grew up eating the fruit in Vietnam.

"Keeps memories alive of when she left Vietnam. So sad she lost the tree," said Duong.

"I was so upset. Couldn't believe they took my tree away," said Pham.

In the past six months, several other fruit trees have been dug up in the neighborhood. If you have any information on the cases, call San Diego Police at 619-531-2000.