ARRIVING at work early on Tuesday morning, she was furious when she saw it.
Ugly graffiti had been scrawled across the back of her events van. The letterbox had also been targeted. And it wasn’t the first time.
Anger took over – but it didn’t last.
"I was so angry," Newcastle Flower Markets owner Jessica Eckford-Aguilera said. "You ask yourself why someone would do this, but then I calmed down a little bit and thought about it. I wanted to turn it into a positive."
Ms Eckford-Aguilera reported the matter to police (even though though she told herself "they have better things to do") but later jumped on Facebook and wrote a message that struck a chord with thousands.
In return for information about the perpetrator she would offer $2500 in free flowers over six months.
She also made a promise to the offender.
He or she would be offered a job at Newcastle Flower Markets in Sandgate “that will teach you responsibility, a job that will teach you to have respect for other people’s belongings and job that you will feel wanted and cared for”.
The post was widely shared and within a few hours she said six people had identified the same suspect – a man who appeared to be in his 30s who is known to use the tag. The florist sent him a message on Facebook and was true to her word.
“I offered him the job,” she said. “I hope he takes it and I hope he trusts me.
“This is not about me bringing attention to myself but I want to be there to try and help. People do go through difficulties in life, they get bored and caught in these situations.
“It should be our responsibility as a community to not only hold people account for their actions, but to give them the opportunity to move forward.”
Ms Eckford-Aguilera said she had been “overwhelmed” by the response.
Many were sympathetic to what she was trying to do. Others offered to remove the graffiti.
Victims of Crime Assistance League chief executive Kerrie Thompson said Ms Eckford-Aguilera’s response to the lower-level offence was to be admired.
“Sometimes victims of crime want to provide the offender an opportunity to change their behaviour,” she said. “This intervention, while to some people may appear simple, could have a profound affect on the offender’s current path.”
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