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Community refills veteran’s flower garden after theft

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Last weekend, flowers being stolen from a veteran’s front yard led to a new flower garden and a stronger sense of community.

Casper Native and army veteran, Jesse Obert, lives in a corner house near the Casper Rec Center. Every year, he plants flowers to brighten up the street and every year those flowers get stolen, this year was no different.

“I watered them good in the... at night and I got up the next morning and they were all gone... That’s all I know,” said Obert.

One thing that has changed this year, his neighbors noticed the flowers were gone and made a sign asking they be returned. The sign caught the attention of people driving to the Rec Center, and soon a social media post with pictures of the sign was shared on community Facebook pages. A variety of people saw the post and wanted to bring flowers to Jesse.

“It all started with a post that I saw shared by a really good friend of mine... and she shared a post that Cyndy Latka shared. She had just taken a picture of the gentleman’s front yard and said, ‘if I can find anybody to help with these pots that were stolen it would be fantastic,’” said The Odd Duck Owner Mike Hills.

The sign Jesse Obert's neighbors put in his flower bed after his flowers were stolen caught the...
The sign Jesse Obert's neighbors put in his flower bed after his flowers were stolen caught the attention of others and a photo of the sign was quickly shared to social media. (Cyndy Latka)

Hills creates concrete pots and statues and decided that he would bring more than just flowers to Obert’s garden. He worked with Katies Kountry Garden and Peter Piper Picked a Picture Frame and Painting to get flowers, pots, and statues to Obert’s house.

“I wanted to bring art to this corner, to where hopefully those that took from this gentleman realize that what they did actually spurred a beautiful moment,” said Hills.

Hills and Luke Huelsman of Peter Piper Picked a Picture Frame and Painting met Obert at his home and helped him rebuild his flower bed. The garden is now filled with flowers and statues including alligators, gnomes, and turtles that keep watch over them.

A pink and white alligator is one of many sculptures now guarding Obert's flower beds.
A pink and white alligator is one of many sculptures now guarding Obert's flower beds.(Katie Reed)

“You would think that people would be less open to allowing strangers on their property and all that after something has been taken from them,” said Huelsman.

According to Hills, the garden is now filled with enough flowers and decorative items that theft would lead to a felony charge. Obert said in previous years he had told police about the thefts, but there was not much that could be done.

“It came up when we were talking about his plans going forward and how this has happened more than once. It just really was a running joke that we had when we were setting things up, but if we add up everything that’s on this corner, now we’re seeing a crime that’s going to be taken pretty seriously,” said Hills.

Anonymous donors also brought flowers to Obert’s home. He said all of the new flowers are his favorite, and that the kindness the community has shown reminded him there are decent people in the world.

“Just thanking everybody that’s donated and everybody that’s thinking of us,” said Obert.

Obert says they do have a camera pointing at the flower beds now, and he’s bringing his new potted plants in every night to help prevent his new flowers from going missing.

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