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Priceless bonsai tree stolen from Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

Posted at 7:14 AM, Feb 24, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – San Diegans are being asked to help after a bonsai tree was stolen from the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park.

The theft, which was captured by a surveillance camera, happened at around 9 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Jose Ramirez, the garden’s facilities manager, told ABC 10News the Chinese Elm bonsai was just recently brought out for display.

"It was refurbished and re-nurtured. It was damaged during the pandemic when we had a transient come and it was damaged, so it was taken off-site, refurbished and just brought back about two weeks ago,” Ramirez said.

The theft of the tree comes just weeks before the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

Anyone with information on the missing tree is urged to call 619-232-2721 or email