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Baldwin officials look for stolen welcome sign

Baldwin Chamber of Commerce officials are appealing for the quick return of the second welcome-to-the-community sign stolen in the past year.

The disappearance of the 8-by-5-foot "Welcome to Beautiful Baldwin" sign -- taken earlier this month from Sunrise Highway between Darby Road and Croydon Drive -- coincided with the theft of plants from a community vegetable and flower garden, officials said.

Karen Montalbano, president of the Baldwin Civic Association, whose beautification committee created the garden last year adjacent to the Baldwin Historical Society Museum at 1980 Grand Ave., said the thief or thieves should have waited.

"It's so ironic," she said. "If the person who took the plants had only waited a little while, he or she could have had the vegetables [including an eggplant a local Girl Scout planted] because we let you take them for free.

"One good thing, though, is how the community responded, stepping up with donations to replace what was lost."

Dozens of residents have offered support online through Facebook.

Some plants were also stolen from a nearby Town of Hempstead planter on Grand Avenue.

Town spokesman Michael Deery said: "We will do what we can, but -- as you know -- we don't have a police department. We do hope whoever did it is caught."

Det. Vincent Garcia, a spokesman for the Nassau County police, said Thursday that uniformed officers from the First Precinct tried to follow up on the thefts, "but there was no surveillance cameras, and no witnesses came forth about any of these cases."

While Montalbano said no dollar value has been placed on the stolen plants, chamber co-president Erik Mahler said his group's sign cost $1,800.

"It's our second such community sign stolen in the last year. It -- with 'Thank You for Shopping in Baldwin' on the back -- can still be returned with no questions asked by calling me at 516-395-7720," he said.

Nassau Legis. Laura Curran, (D-Baldwin), a member of the civic association and the chamber, said: "As hard as so many people are working to keep Baldwin beautiful and even improve it, we can't let a few miscreants stop that."

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