The return of spring also means the return of Washington’s most refined criminal mastermind: the Upper Northwest flower thief. For years, the flower thief has terrorized the gardeners of Chevy Chase, Cleveland Park, and Tenleytown, ripping off their flowers for resale. So far, though, the thief has evaded capture.

This being Washington, what to do with the flower thief is a seasonally hot topic on area listservs. More gentle souls have compared him to Les MiserablesJean Valjean, and Cleveland Parkers recently debated whether to use a hunting camera to catch him in the act. This year, though, the flower thief may face his most determined opposition yet: the New York Times.

In a Monday email to the Chevy Chase listserv, Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer asks to interview one of the flower thief’s victims. This is Steinhauer’s second shot at the mysterious plant-lover—-she tried the same thing in 2012, without success.

Not all in Chevy Chase are eager to turn their controversial rogue over to the Grey Lady, though. One listserv member who originally shared Steinhauer’s contact information has changed her mind since running into the flower thief, arms full of lillies, on the Metro. Now she regrets putting potentially aggrieved green thumbs in touch with the reporter.

“He may not want to become a recipient of public assistance,” she writes in an email today. “Flowers, albeit from another’s yard, are the way he supports himself.”

Until next time, flower thief.

Flower photo by Shutterstock