We have a pomegranate tree in our front lawn, pretty close to the sidewalk. Although we live on a quiet, sheltered, cul-de-sac, that doesn’t keep people from driving by, hopping out of their car, nabbing a few poms and speeding away. Last year we woke up one morning to find half of the tree stripped – basically all pomegranates within reach.
What to do? I had fantasies of installing a motion-detector camera, but the wiring was a challenge. So, this year, after we noticed the first missing pomegranate, I got out with my permanent marker and wrote over every pomegranate within reach “Please do not steal” or “Shame on you”. My father scoffed at the idea. I mean, if someone is going to steal a pomegranate, they’re going to steal one, right? But it more or less worked. Few pomegranates went missing for the rest of the season, and we had one of the biggest crops ever. We juice every one, and we either drink the juice, or turn it into jelly. We did catch a couple of people in the act of stopping to pick one anyway, and when they asked if they could have one, we gave it to them.
Why did this method work? I think many people were taking fruit because they thought that either 1) it was near the sidewalk so it was public property, or 2) we couldn’t possibly use all those pomegranates and if they didn’t pick them the poms would probably rot. This would be the justification I would use if I were to nab fruit from someone’s tree. But, by marking them, not only did we lay claim to the poms, but we made it difficult for someone who stole one to enjoy it conscientiously.