Bonsai burglary wipes out years of hard work by Chino nursery owner

Rob McMillan Image
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Bonsai burglaries 'disheartening' for SoCal nursery owners
A bonsai-tree nursery in Chino was burglarized recently, wiping out memories and years of hard work and the owner says other nurseries throughout SoCal have also been victimized.

CHINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Jason Chan is the owner of Eastern Leaf, a bonsai tree nursery in Chino.

For 17 years he's worked carefully and slowly to perfect his craft and teach others about bonsai as well.

Which is why he is disappointed and heartbroken as he watches surveillance video of a man breaking into his nursery and stealing dozens of the trees he put so much time and attention into.

The burglary happened Sept. 9 around 3 a.m. Video shows a man break into the nursery and steal about 40 trees, tossing them over the fence like garbage.

Chan says the stolen trees were worth about $15,000 - but much more as a symbol of his hard work.

"It's hard to put a value on a tree because of the memories behind it, and the time behind it."

Chan just finished a book on bonsai earlier this year and now almost every tree portrayed inside, on the cover and back, is gone.

But it didn't just happen to him.

Chan is in touch with others throughout the industry and has heard of similar break-ins at nurseries in Gardena, Lakewood, Thousand Oaks and Santa Monica.

"It's kind of disheartening for the industry in general," he said.

Chan says police told him it's likely that the same vehicle used to target his business in Chino was also used in a Gardena burglary.

He wants anyone watching to take a good look and contact police if they have any information.