This looks like a job for Special Branch. A middle-aged woman in a pink headscarf wheels off an ornamental tree in a child’s pushchair in the latest suspected episode of a garden crimewave.

Residents in suburban Barking have reported a spate of pot plants, hanging baskets and statues going walkabout from outside their homes.

They now fear their streets are being targeted by an organised gang pinching pot plants to order from their well-kept front gardens.

On Saturday, Jodie Rose, 39, and her husband Grant, 32, discovered that two £40 artificial trees had been swiped.

Mrs Rose, a teacher, told the Standard: “I know they’re just trees but I feel really violated. I’ve got a six-year-old boy … what if he’d heard and opened the door? He’s very nervous about it and keeps asking if the police will catch her.

“I feel gutted, this side of Christmas I can’t afford to replace them. We had hanging baskets stolen in the summer too, and my auntie had a similar thing happen to her, and she lives five minutes from me.

“A woman, with a similar pram, took her art-deco style light statue and a decorative mushroom in May.”

After posting an appeal on Facebook she received dozens of messages from locals saying they had fallen victim to similar thefts.

“Apparently there’s a group of them,” she said. “They get dropped off in a van, they go along and they take things.

“I personally believe there may be a gang of them or a family going out and doing this as far too many people have come forward and told me this has happened.

“One lady said to me she heard something in her front garden, opened the door and they were taking her hanging baskets. She said, ‘Hey! What are you doing?’ and a lady spat at her.”

In response to Mrs Rose’s post, Mun Islam said: “Our plant pots were taken by a woman who was dressed just like her.”

Bev Green wrote: “Disgusting, I had a hanging basket taken from my door step last year. I refuse to put anything out now.” Susan Cripps added that neighbours of hers had plants taken from their gardens in the summer.

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