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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 04, 1982
- Vol. 18
- No. 14
In the Arizona Desert, Cactus Cop Richard Countryman Tackles a Thorny Problem
Cactus is protected under Arizona law. Anyone convicted of stealing a cactus can be fined $500 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, with penalties escalating for repeat offenders. With only a seven-man crew to help him patrol 90,000 square miles, Countryman can hope to put away only a small proportion of the desert bandits. Occasionally he gets a bit of unexpected help. Last winter a paroled felon from New York was blasting away with a shotgun and two rifles at a 23-foot saguaro when the ton-and-a-half cactus toppled over and killed him. Says Countryman approvingly: "That time a native plant struck back."
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