A Mangonui pensioner is now living in fear for her safety after thieves raided her Mill Bay garden.
The saddest thing, Valerie Churchouse said, was that there had been no need to steal the bromeliads.
"I would've loved to give them to them; if you've got excess you love to give it away," she said.
Now she was considering installing security cameras to protect herself.
Churchouse admitted she had not been in her garden a lot over summer due to the intense heat, but one day, admiring it from her kitchen, she noticed there was a gap.
Some bromeliad pups, or off-shoots, were missing. Closer inspection revealed they had been cut off at the stem.
The situation got "worse and worse" when she looked around her whole section. The garden, which was usually wall-to-wall bromeliads, was missing many dozens of plants, including whole pots.
The theft had been carried out methodically, she said, by someone who obviously knew about bromeliads.
"People who didn't know what they were doing would just pull them off, and then they wouldn't grow: they've got to have a base so they sprout roots."
Churchouse, who works part-time as a personal carer and is a regular volunteer for the SPCA, has been developing her garden for more than 20 years, getting into bromeliads on the suggestion of a friend as a solution for her steep clay site. She saved her money to buy plants every fortnight.
"All I've got is my two cats and this," she said, pointing to her garden.
"Fancy taking my plants... it's like taking my right arm."
She wouldn't say how many plants had been taken, but they were worth up to $50 each. Her biggest concern, however, was that someone was watching her movements.