SHALIMAR, Fla. (WKRG) — The owner of Wildwood Garden Shoppe & Nursery in Shalimar said they know who stole more than $1,000 in plants from their gated store off Eglin Pkwy. Amanda Holmes-Rippert said the nursery has been hit twice this year and filed reports with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office both times.
Holmes-Rippert said she followed her own leads to find her plants and a suspect in the case. She passed along the information to OCSO to make an arrest.
“After we were hit a second time I didn’t feel like we had time to wait on them so we started trying to kind of move forward and put our own feelers out,” said Holmes-Rippert. “I feel like we’ve definitely found the suspect and it is being handled on the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department end and hopefully we’ll have some type of final arrest or ending to all.”
OCSO did confirm to WKRG News 5 that this is an ongoing investigation. The name of the suspect has not been released.
Multiple suspects can be seen on surveillance footage from August 6 taking numerous plants and equipment from the gardening store. Holmes-Rippert said she knows of one of them.
“I think we’re just looking at one, but there is possibly two but definitively one,” said Holmes-Rippert.
Holmes-Rippert said they hope to be able to get the plants back and sell any living ones they can. Charges against the suspect are pending the investigation.
“I mean, obviously you know when you put your blood, sweat and tears into something and you see the merchandise just walk away with no possibility to sell them it’s heartbreaking,” said Holmes-Rippert. “And in a perfect world I would love to get the items back, but most importantly this is our sanctuary and it’s been tainted and I don’t want anyone to come back and think ‘I can do this’ ever again.”
The nursery owner said she has increased security at the shop to deter any other like-minded criminals.
“We definitely increase the sensitivities on our cameras, so unfortunately we get a lot of notifications from the wind and squirrels and bees, but at the end of the day, we’re probably going to be notified of any movement moving forward,” said Holmes-Rippert. “We’ve added some additional cameras, but I really don’t think this will happen again.”
WKRG News 5 has reached out to OCSO for updates on this case.