2 ticketed for stealing berries from New Smyrna Beach park, deputies say

Thieves tried to steal 3 garbage cans full of palmetto berries

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Park staff at Smyrna Dunes Park have been finding empty berry stalks all along the boardwalk after they say berry thieves hit the park last week.

Stacey Cabe, a park employee, says the thieves are destroying the natural landscape.

"It destroys the wildlife, the natural habitat, and the beauty of the park and everything- so it's just destructive," she said.

Cabe says dried up palmetto berries and juice stains on the boardwalk were left behind by Jevin and Joseph Kotnik, who according to deputies, were trying to steal three trash cans full of berries from the park on Thursday.

The Kotniks told deputies they sell the berries for 98 cents a pound, but picking them from private and public land is illegal, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The juice from palmetto berries is used in herbal medicines to treat prostate problems.

However, Cabe says wildlife at the park depend on the berries for food.

The Kotniks told deputies they were unemployed, and needed money.

They were each given a $250 ticket, and deputies say if they're caught trying to steal berries again, they can go to jail.

Copyright 2013 by ClickOrlando.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.