‘My lawn was stolen last night’: How a filmmaker learned to laugh at his missing turf

A man poses for a photo holding a thick strip of awn grass.
Bryan Michael Stoller poses with what is left of his artificial lawn after thieves made off with about 30 feet of his lawn.
(Courtesy of Darren Ballas)

While Bryan Michael Stoller was sleeping, his front lawn was stolen.

It was no small feat to make off with about 30 feet of artificial turf from outside Stoller’s Studio City townhouse early Wednesday morning.

It was clearly the work of professional yard bandits, he said.

“If the average person came by and tried to pull it up, you couldn’t pull it up. You’d probably need some tools, and you’d probably need to really get under there and have people pull,” said Stoller, an independent filmmaker.

Stoller had to do a double-take when he stepped outside his front door to walk his dog and saw a strip of bare earth. Another section of the lawn was lifted up, but the thieves apparently gave up mid-steal and left the turf bundled up like a crumbled green carpet, said Stoller, who estimates the total loss at about $2,000.


The Los Angeles Police Department said they have not received any information regarding an increase in artificial lawn theft.

Stoller is working on the assumption that a team of experienced lawn thieves swooped in to steal his turf, because the artificial turf was stuck to the ground with thousands of nails and hooks. When rolled up into a bundle, the turf probably weighs about 60 pounds.

“I think it was probably a professional job,” Stoller said. “And they probably had a van because I don’t know how else they could have done it.”

Stoller, whose film work includes the 2004 parody movie “Miss Cast Away” which includes a cameo from singer Michael Jackson, posted about his lawn situation to the hyper-local social media app NextDoor.

“Lawn stolen last night! If you have an artificial turf lawn, be on the look out! My lawn was stolen last night!” Stoller wrote, aware of how ridiculous his post sounded when he read it out loud. “So the saying is, if it’s not nailed down they’ll steal it. Well, even if it’s nailed down — they’ll steal it.”

He wanted the neighbors to know that if they spot his pilfered lawn they could tell him. But he thought the post would get little traction and was instead just a good outlet for his frustration. But 150 comments later — including a handful of lawn jokes — he realized that people dug his story.


“It’s a turf war,” someone commented, “It takes a real sod to do something like this.”

Another person asked the most obvious question: “Are you sure you didn’t have a yard sale over the weekend that you forgot about?”

But others were a bit less sympathetic and took issue with the fact that Stoller’s yard was artificial.

“I’d say consider it as a good deed,” someone wrote. “Saving you from exposure to cancer causing forever chemicals produced by artificial turf.”

Others chimed in to say that it could have been “eco-warriors trying to save the Earth” from the plastic lawn.

His security cameras didn’t clearly catch the thieves, but the surveillance video showed his lawn being lifted off the ground. He did not file a police report, he said, because he’s concerned about the hit his insurance premium will take, so he’s taking the loss on the chin.

“I did call the police and kind of joked if they can put an all-points bulletin for my front lawn.”


Before he can permanently replace the lawn, he’s rearranging pieces of his remaining turf to cover the bald spots in the meantime.

“At first, I was upset and I was shocked and I was kind of in disbelief,” Stoller said. “Then once I absorbed it, I just realized how silly and funny and stupid it was.”