Green Thumb Burglar

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Green Thumb Burglar
Episode # 108
Air Date November 10, 1977
Briefing Green Thumb Burglars have stolen over $60,000 worth of shrubs

Brief Plot

Someone is stealing plants from L.A.'s freeways. A psychic predicts trouble for Ponch.


The episode opens with two cars trying to run each other off the road. Ponch stops to buy a dozen roses for $3 from a kid on the side of the road. After putting the flowers in his saddlebag, he and Jon spot the cars westbound on the San Bernardino Freeway and begin their pursuit. It's not long before the cars go off the road, with one rolling over in the median. Ponch runs to help while Jon calls it in. As Ponch gets to the overturned car, the driver has climbed out the other side and starts heading to the other driver. Ponch restrains the man while Jon runs up to hold the other one as Caltrans workers watch. One man's struggling sends both him and Ponch into a mud puddle. After climbing out of the puddle, the Caltrans workers tell Ponch and Jon that they're replanting plants after the originals were stolen by the "Green Thumb Burglars".

On their way to Ponch's for a change of clothes, they stop twins who drove through a four-way stop sign. They claim to be famous psychics and predict trouble for Ponch They tell him to "beware of sharp objects", that he will have "conflict with an authority figure", he "will be in danger from fire", and he will suffer "a devastating romantic setback."

After arriving at Ponch's motor home, Ponch tries to get a lunch of tuna and beans for Jon. He cuts himself and Jon points out "Madam Butterball's" first prediction has come true. Ponch calls it a coincidence.

At Central, Getraer is tending to some plants outside when Ponch arrives. Getraer tells Ponch that he got a 30 minute telephone call complaining about a mud-splattered "Officer Ponjello". After Getraer goes inside, Jon realizes that "Madam Butterball's second prediction about a run-in with an authority figure has come true.

Inside, Ponch flirts with Georgia, his date for the night, before heading to the briefing. At briefing, Getraer gives an update on the "Green Thumb Burglars" and how they've stolen over $60,000 of foliage.

After the briefing, Ponch and Jon come across an accident scene. Baricza is directing traffic while Fritz is talking to the driver of a tanker trailer. Ponch and Jon help paramedics get a stuck man out of his totaled car. The paramedics use the jaws of life as the guy complains that they're damaging his car. As the tanker trailer leaves the site, Ponch realizes that it's leaking gas. The back catches fire when the truck runs over a flare. Ponch, Jon, Baricza, and a fire truck chase after the tanker. Ponch pulls alongside and tells the driver to keep the truck moving while Jon arranges a rendezvous with a foam truck. Shain joins the caravan and suggests that he and Jon roll ahead to clear traffic. As they all arrive where the foam truck is waiting, Ponch guides the truck into the foam and evacuates the driver to safety. The fire crews successfully put out the fire. Ponch is excited that he "beat Madam Butterball", but Jon points out that she actually predicted that "there was danger of fire". As Ponch turns around, he realizes he has lost his motorcycle in the foam.

At McLowery's Nursery, a Caltrans truck pulls in and the driver sells the truckload of plans to the owner.

While Ponch washes off his motor at Central, Jon comes up with a theory that the guys stealing the plants are dressed as Caltrans workers. Ponch agrees it's a good theory and then passes it on to Getraer as his own. Getraer thinks it's a great theory and heads inside to tell all units to check IDs for all Caltrans crews. Jon gives both Ponch and Getraer a hard time for "grand theft of theory".

Ponch and Jon pull over H.R. Pufnstuf

After visiting Central, Ponch notices something unusual driving a car. When they pull it over, H.R. Pufnstuf gets out. They make him walk because his view was obstructed by the costume. A few yards away, "Caltrans" landscapers are leaving a work site. Jon suggests they check out"Getraer's theory." When the truck won't pull over, Jon calls it in. When Getraer hears about it, he heads out and they dump their trees on him. The CHP corners them in a Drive-In lot. (Later seen in "The Return of the Supercycle") Getraer arrests them.

That night at Jon's apartment, Ponch learns that his date got engaged to Sgt. Maloney...making the final prediction come true.

Great Quote

"$3.75 again?"
-Ponch, upon realizing he has to have his uniform drycleaned again

Guest Stars



Fun Facts

  • The Tidwell Twins run a stop sign at the intersection of Haynes St. and Orion St. The house on the northwest corner can be seen in the background as they turn left on to Haynes. View in Google Maps
  • The NRA poster that Ponch had in his motor home is missing. It was prominently displayed in "Baby Food."
  • When Ponch arrives at Central, Getraer refers to him as a "probationer". This refers to Ponch's probationary status from the pilot episode.
  • Ponch's singing of "tonight, tonight" while headed to the briefing is from the song "Tonight" from "West Side Story".
  • The shot of the two CHP officers on the freeway immediately after the afternoon briefing is the same clip used during the opening theme (Watch for the blue truck with writing on the door in the far lane.)
  • H.R. Pufnstuf is the title character from a popular 1970s Sid and Marty Kroft television show.
  • In the end, Ponch starts eating a Twinkie with silverware...starting the trend that many people credit to Seinfeld.


  • The sounds of the two cars crashing into each other at the beginning of the episode was rather obviously dubbed in later.
  • When talking with Getraer, Jon tells the sergeant that he was "too scared to move". Getraer asks if Ponch collared both of them, but Jon says Ponch got one and Caltrans workers helped with the other one. The Caltrans workers didn't do anything except help Ponch out of the mud. They never helped hold either of the drivers from the cars.
  • As Ponch, Jon, and Baricza notice the fire on the back of the trailer, they all run to their vehicles. Fritz also starts to run, but then stops and just steps out of frame.
  • The person inside the H.R. Pufnstuf costume is not the person who does the voice. If two CHP officers really pulled over H.R. Pufnstuf, he wouldn't sound like he does in this episode.
  • When Ponch and Jon are chasing the "Green Thumb Burglars", Jon says they are "southbound Hollywood at Sunset." The exit they take is for "Buena Vista Street" and there is a sign visible for the next exit at "Hollywood Way". This puts them on the Golden State Freeway, not where Jon said they were. View actual location on Google Maps

Buy this episode

Preceded by:
"Taking Its Toll"
Green Thumb Burglar
Followed by: