Farm Crime: The Unhappy Holidays Edition
The holiday season is supposed to be a time for giving, but for Grinch-like criminals, it’s more a desire for taking that drives them. And perhaps worst of all they’ve been stealing the very symbols of the season (Christmas trees to wreaths...even turkeys), from farms around the world. Here a few that have recently made the news.
(N)o Christmas Tree
In early December, the owners of Heidrich’s Colorado Tree Farm Nursery, in El Paso County, Colorado, discovered to their dismay that someone had snuck onto their property and made off with $6,000 worth of Christmas trees, according to KKTV in Colorado Springs. The owner, Levi Heidrich, later spotted the stolen evergreens being sold not far from his farm. Police seized the 82 trees and returned them to Heidrich, who then decided to donate them to the needy. But before he got the chance, the trees were stolen again and are still missing.
Irish Eyes Are Watching
In the last few years in the Republic of Ireland roving bands of Christmas tree thieves nicking a hundred evergreens at a clip have sprung up. The national police, known as the Gardai, responded with an annual crackdown to put a stop to the crimes. “Operation Hurdle” (cops the world over like to give cool names to their various crackdowns) was launched in November and included air surveillance and stepped up police patrols of Christmas tree farms, reported the Irish Mirror newspaper. These gangs of Christmas tree farm raiders are no joke. Back in 2011, a County Wicklow farmer was tied up and robbed. Operation Hurdle, which began in 2012, has helped lower the number of thefts, but Christmas tree crime remains a problem.
Ring Around the Robber
In Alfred, Maine, thieves who were too lazy to haul away Christmas trees instead focused their criminal activity on a product that uses evergreen branches: holiday wreathes, more than 200 of them. A trailer stuffed full of the wreathes was stolen from Gile’s Family Farm sometime around Dec. 2, according to centralmaine.com. One of the owners, Frank Bouchard, told WCSH, of Portland, that they were out close to $5,000 between the trailer and wreathes. The crime remains under investigation. At least this story has a little holiday spirit, since several other farms in the Alfred area offered to provide wreathes to Gile’s Family Farm to make up for their loss.
Egad, the Gobblers Are Gone
In West Sussex, England, thieves managed to steal £4,500($5,522 U.S.) worth of turkey carcasses from a Storrington farm sometime around Dec. 18, according to The Argus newspaper. The criminals knocked down a gate, broke into a barn and made off with 60 freshly slaughtered, hand-reared turkeys that were ready to be delivered to local families who had pre-ordered the birds. Local police warned residents to be wary of shady people offering to sell them turkeys at cut-rate prices as they were likely the stolen turkeys.
Holidazed and Confused
A defunct Christmas tree farm was being used to grow a crop that provides a different kind of cheer, according to police in Emory County, Utah. Back in October a drug task force raided the former Christmas tree farm in Castle Dale, arrested the 73-year-old grower, and hauled away a marijuana crop worth about $100,000, reported the Sun Advocate newspaper.