He also stole plants from East Riding and Hull Council floral displays, to replant them in his own garden. PC Andy White, of the Kirk Ella, Willerby and Anlaby Neighbourhood Policing Teams, said he had never heard of anything like it.
"When he was arrested he was asked if there were any plants that shouldn't be in his garden and he pulled out a box of plants," he said. "He must have dug up about half a dozen.
"He had a nice garden, but dozens of the plants had been stolen. We've investigated the theft of garden furniture and the odd garden ornament going missing, but this is the first time I've heard of plants taken like this."
Among the victims was a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, who lived off Lowfield Road in Anlaby.
So incensed by the mysterious disappearance of plants from her garden on several occasions, she installed CCTV and caught Mail in the act.
She also put mousetraps around the garden to deter the thief.
PC White said: "He said the ones from the domestic address had died.
"He was stealing two or three plants at a time, usually from big displays in the hope a few missing plants wouldn't be missed and would go unnoticed.
"When we arrested him he was full of regret and admitted it was a stupid thing to do."
Mail pleaded guilty to six offences of the theft of flowers and one of attempted theft of flowers.
PC White said: "In one incident he was caught by the homeowner leaving in his car.
"Knowing he was spotted in the car, he brought the flowers back and left the plastic bag of flowers on the floor before apologising and driving off.
"We don't know why he targeted the house in Lowfield. Maybe it was the fact it was a nice display that could be seen from the road."
Ahead of the court case at Beverley Magistrates' Court earlier this week, Mail was warned not to be found in possession of plants or flowers.
At the case, on Wednesday, Mail also pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving stolen goods – a Black and Decker strimmer, a Marine motors British seagull outboard motor and green metal diesel can and a Black and Decker strimmer and a Flymo lawn mower.
PC White said: "The CCTV images provided us with some good images and from putting them in the Mail, we had a lot of calls naming him."
Mail has not yet been sentenced
(reproduced from thisishullandeastriding.co.uk , Sept 13th)
Gardien Comment: Proof positive that CCTV images can be good enough to catch a thief. See our CCTV devices at http://www.garden-security.co.uk/garden-cctv.aspx