Holiday Robberies Plague Flower Shops

Well, another International Women's Day has passed — belated congrats to female readers out there. And as with most holidays in Russia, this year’s IWD was accompanied by thematic crimes.

Two masked men held up a flower shop with a knife in southern Moscow on Monday evening, stabbing the saleswoman in the hand before making off with about 40,000 rubles ($1,350), a police source told RIA-Novosti. The woman was hospitalized but survived.

Apparently the robbers didn’t grab any flowers — a standard gift for the fairer sex on International Women’s day — and they actually left the till alone as well, according to a city police source cited by RIA.

“One of the unidentified men tore the saleswoman’s purse away. The woman tried to stop him and was stabbed with the knife,” the source said. “The victim had personal money in her purse totaling 40,000 rubles, as well as documents.”

The robbers fled the shop, located at the intersection of Ulitsa Kakhovka and Sevastopolsky Prospekt, in a silver Lada, and police mobilized units citywide to search for the vehicles, the source said.

The attack came a day after three masked robbers armed with a handgun knocked off a flower shop on Leninsky Prospekt in southern Moscow, Lifenews.ru reported. The attackers broke into the shop, appropriately named “Iris,” at about 6 a.m. Sunday, threatening the saleswoman with the gun before taking 100,000 rubles from the cash register.

City police jumped to quell rumors of an eruption of attacks on flower shops in connection with the holiday. A duty press officer told Itar-Tass that while “several media outlets” reported about a series of flower shop robberies, he only had information about the Monday evening robbery. Reports of a spate of such crimes “are not accurate,” he said.

Past flower shop robberies in Moscow have been motivated by romance as well as greed. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day and International Women’s Day last year, a 19-year-old student broke into a flower kiosk to steal a bouquet for his girlfriend but ended up trying to make off with as many flowers as he could — worth $1,000 in total. Unfortunately for this incorrigible romantic, he left "an entire trail of flowers" in the snow behind him, meaning that it didn’t take exactly Gleb Zheglov to track him down.

Russian flower shop robberies are not the exclusive domain of the Third Rome. A quick Yandex search pulls up similar crimes all across the country, including a spate of such robberies in Vladivostok in 2008. Authorities there put out a composite sketch of the suspect, who was believed to have knocked off at least 10 flower shops, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

No word if he was ever caught, but he was crowned with an enviable moniker: Buttercup.