Watch CBS News

'Plant Theft Auto'; Couple Sentenced For Stealing Succulents From State Park

SALINAS (CBS SF) -- A Southern California couple has been sentenced for poaching succulent plants off the coast of Garrapata State Park in Monterey County with plans to sell them to customers in China, the Monterey County District Attorney announced Saturday.

On May 5, 2018, the Monterey County Sheriff's Office received a tip that the couple, 49-year-old Guanrong Rivera and 64-year-old Jose Luis Rivera, had climbed up a cliff on State Highway 1 and were loading bags of the succulent Dudleya farinosas (or "Bluff lettuce") into their car.

The person who sent in the tip took a photo of the suspects, their car and their license plate.

The Sheriff's Office referred the matter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which found the couple's house in Palmdale. They watched the house and saw Guanrong Rivera walking in and out of her garage taking photos of the succulents on her driveway.

Five days later, on May 10, CDFW searched the Riveras' home and found about 600 Dudleyas inside the garage. Guanrong Rivera said she took the succulents from the Big Sur area and was planning on selling them to customers in China.

The plants were taken to the University of California at Santa Cruz to be evaluated and returned to the wild.

On Jan. 15, Jose Luis Rivera entered a no contest plea to illegally taking plants from the state park. He was sentenced Jan. 31 to 40 days in the county jail, three years of informal probation and a $4,018 fine.

Guanrong Rivera entered a no contest plea to grand theft, vandalism and illegally taking plants from the state park. She was sentenced Jan. 31 to three years of formal probation, 179 days in the county jail, ordered to pay a $9,999.90 fine and a $10,000 contribution to CDFW, pay restitution to CDFW and forfeit all stolen plants.

Both were banned from all national and state parks in California.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.