GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Vandals hit an Upstate garden center, leaving tens of thousands in damaged plants.
“It was malicious intent,” said Martin Garden Center President Reggie Meehan. “They intended to kill every plant by what they did.”
Orange flecks dot the once thriving plants at the Martin Garden Center in Greenville County.
“I just thought it could all be gone and it might potentially all be gone,” Meehan said.
Meehan says someone broke into the business and sprayed a chemical everywhere.
“The orange color comes from a surface inhibiting herbicide and it’s supposed to prevent grass from growing up along our walkways,” said Meehan.
She’s not sure if it was mixed with another chemical that could be even more dangerous and the shrubs outside the greenhouse were hit too.
“The person knew our operation well enough which is frightening,” said Meehan.
She says whoever did this avoided their surveillance cameras and even contaminated their water distribution system.
“It’s actually a really sad thing,” said employee Liz Meirelles, who was among the folks cleaning up Thursday.
Meehan said they cut down some plants as much as possible.
“If it was an herbicide and it were to be absorbed into the tissue of the plant, as long as it didn’t get into the root system it would not kill the plant,” said Meehan.
They also washed the plants but Meehan fears it won’t be enough.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we now have to pull $80k worth of shrub and move them and restock with more because unfortunately I can’t sell someone a plant that I think might potentially die,” said Meehan.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, while Meehan waits to see the true extent of the damage.
“I feel sorry for the person and I know that I would forgive them later, much much later, because this is going to be very tough for my company and the people who work here,” said Meehan. “For our annual and plants that are in our greenhouse, we’ll know in about three days but for the shrubs it may take up to a week or two before we notice any damage.”
She said if their trimming and washing efforts failed, and they lost all the plants that were hit, she estimates the total damage to be around $150,000.
“Losing $150k of your inventory you’re talking about 10-20 percent of your inventory that you’ve just lost. And that throws you back into the dark ages,” Meehan said. “There won’t be profit again for another couple of years.”
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said the burglary and damage happened some time between 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday.
Deputies say it’s believe 15,000 plants worth an estimated $150,000 were damaged.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Greenville at 864-23-CRIME.