Brooklyn Park Man Charged With Stealing Rare Bonsai Trees | Minnesota News

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Brooklyn Park man is accused of stealing rare and expensive bonsai trees from Hopkins and St. Paul in multiple incidents over the past year, authorities said Friday.

Phong Yang, 36, is charged with theft, property damage, possession of a firearm, possession of burglary tools and possession of fifth degree marijuana. Another criminal complaint accuses him of stealing a catalytic converter.

Investigators say Yang stole rare and unusual bonsai trees worth tens of thousands of dollars. One is said to be over 250 years old and worth $14,000.

Bonsai is an ancient art form practiced in Japan since the 6th century. It usually features trees or shrubs grown in small containers. Growers spend hours cutting, wiring and fertilizing plants to create a unique living display.

St. Louis Park Police and other aid agencies were able to locate the suspect after the tree owner placed a GPS tracker on one of them.

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Nicholas Ehlers, outreach director for the Minnesota Bonsai Society, said that while a new plant from a nursery could cost between $10 and $50, a show-quality tree could cost hundreds or thousands.

“Even if it’s not show quality, you still have to put in hours of watering and tending to the trees to get them to this point, which can take years,” he said. -he declares.

Police say none of the trees have been salvaged, and Hopkins residents are offering a $3,000 reward for their return.

Court documents do not mention a lawyer for Yang.

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