MADISON, Wisconsin — Cops are on the lookout for a conifer crook who took off with a giant, rare tree from the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.
The UW-Madison Police Department say that sometime between Nov. 5 and Nov. 9, a rare 25-foot tall Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain Pine Tree was cut down and stolen from the UW Arboretum property.
The tree was located about 30 yards from the arboretum’s main drive. The very rare tree was planted in 1988. Its twin, which had been planted right next to it, was left unharmed.
The curator of the Arboretum’s Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, David Stevens, told the Wisconsin State Journal that he believes the tree was “most likely taken for a large Christmas tree display.”
“Somebody’s trying to make a buck,” he said.
“We’re just devastated,” he added. “It feels like somebody broke into your house and stole something precious to you.”
Another large tree nearby – a Compact White Fir which was planted in 1981 – had a 12 foot section cut from the top of the tree. That cut section, however, was left behind, cops said.
The arboretum estimates the cost of the damaged tree and the stolen tree is at least $13,000.
Staffers think the thieves must have used a flatbed truck to get the tree out of the facility so the theft probably occurred late at night.
Police are urging anyone who “witnessed a large tree being transported from this area – or notices a large tree that’s now part of someone’s holiday display,” to call them.