A Grinch struck in New Haven overnight Wednesday, swiping a dozen of the Christmas trees that the Werner Tree Farm has for sale at the Green Haven Nursery.
"It is something that happens to us every year. The quantities differ, but I think it's too much of a temptation for some people," said the farm's David Werner.
It's so common that Werner says he builds it into the farm's business plan. Losing about a dozen trees in a year isn't many, but last year about 50 of their trees were stolen from an offsite lot in Lincoln -- a much bigger blow to the family-run operation. "The worst thing is when someone thinks they have a tree reserved and they show up and it's gone," Werner said.
He says most tree thieves don't steal the pre-cut ones, they come in and cut their own. And once those trees disappear they aren't likely to be found. "We try to patrol the area but it's hard to identify a Christmas tree. So once they're stolen it's pretty impossible to recover unless someone calls it in and helps us that way," said Vermont State Police Sgt. Eugene Duplissis.
Now the Werners' trees that were stolen were from their second location, which actually happens to be right across from the New Haven State Police barracks. State Police say they will be reviewing footage from their cameras to see if they can possibly catch those thieves. Police are now encouraging farmers to install motion-activated cameras to deter or help catch tree thieves, but that there's little else they can do. "Just watching the property, using game cameras and speaking with neighbors. Just Vermonters taking care of Vermonters," Sgt. Duplissis said.
Werner says despite the trees that go missing, he knows most of the people who come looking for a tree are happy to pay for it."I think you just have to have a lot of faith in human beings and people being good -- particularly this time of year, particularly Christmas," he said.