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Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Holiday mischief: Vandals cut down 10-foot spruce tree in Nichols Arboretum

By Kyle Feldscher

There were some Grinchly activities in the Nichols Arboretum earlier this week when somebody cut down a spruce tree without permission.

University staff reported someone cut down the10-foot spruce tree between 9 a.m. Tuesday and 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to an item on the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety crime log. Police spokeswoman Diane Brown said the tree was valued at $400.

"It is unfortunate that annually one or more people choose to be selfish by damaging and removing property that is enjoyed by so many community members," she said.

The removal of the tree was reported to police at 9:42 a.m. Dec. 8, according to the log.

Police do not have any suspects and the investigation into the incident was closed on Thursday.

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Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Is there a trail created by a dragged pine tree that leads up to a local fraternity house? Either way, the tree is worth well over $1000 when you consider the cost of a replacement and the labor/equipment to replace the tree. This is clearly a felony case and should be treated as such.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

@ grye ....I am in aggrement with you, only I wouldn't help. I would allow them to take the top 20 feet. (just don't mess with my phone, cable, and electric lines) The thief/thieves would not even bother with our trees, reason being (IT IS OK TO TAKE IT). They are in a destructive mode. I really hope this tree is found, and the thief pays what it is worth.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

They used to have this same problem out east with folks cutting down trees on the medium of the highways, so they spray them with a noxious smelling chemical that is activated by the heat of a house. Why on earth doesn't the Arb do the sam thing?

Kai Petainen

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

this is quite aggravating. i hate it when people cut down trees in the arb, or push them into the river.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

@KyleFeldscher...just you have any idea as to the value of this tree? Perhaps that would make you think again about using such trivial terms for criminal activities even...grinchly ones...a thief is a thief is a thief!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

I have a 30 - 40' blue spruce in my backyard if someone would like to come and steal it. I'll even help.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

There is an important word missing here: theft. Theft is taking an item that doesn't belong to you. We have a tradition in this country of being able to remove plants that are in the public domain for personal use. It goes back to a time when much of the countryside was open and it was considered usual to find a tree "in the woods" for your Christmas. But for much public property now, we cannot allow individuals to remove trees that are there for community use any more than we can have them remove fences, bricks, or statuary from public property. Most park systems now have the "take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints" rule. In this case, as very nicely pointed out by Ben Connor Barrie, the tree was a specimen of unusual value (botanically, not just in commercial terms). This theft was more equivalent to removing a rare book from a library and cutting out the plates to frame for your own walls. It will be difficult to replace.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

I guess I don't share the same sentiments as others who are calling for the heaviest sentencing possible for these "vandals". While I completely grasp the inappropriateness of taking something that does not belong to you, I think the use of "mischief", "vandal", and "grinchly" are out of place. Mischief is defined as playful misbehavior or troublemaking...most likely this person was not out for playful misbehavior but probably thinking "that tree would look great in front of my window". As far as vandalism, at least they didn't just run around cutting all the trees down and leaving them lay around and maybe chop them all up in little pieces and run tire tracks all through the park area on their 4-wheelers. And hmm...grinchly? Well wouldn't that imply that they hate christmas...and if they hated christmas, why would they need a christmas tree. All that said, basically I think my point is this is silly and while I don't think people should do these things, I love the christmas double standard: what's done in the "spirit of christmas" for some is "grinchly" to others.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

djm12652: yes, stealing is inappropriate behavior...don't you agree???


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

obvious...inappropriateness? they stole something...


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

OK. I see your point. I always think of the "spirit of Christmas" as being the spirit of giving not taking.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

i'm not making this about what people believe is the "spirit of christmas"...i don't even believe in that crap...but what i'm saying is, if someone celebrates christmas and cut down this tree for their christmas celebrations wouldn't that be considered for them to be their definition of the "spirit of christmas"? is there a definition? i'm just pointing out the irony of all of this


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

"what's done in the "spirit of christmas" This was done in the "spirit of christmas" huh? I learned a little different spin on the "spirit of christmas"

Ben Connor Barrie

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Here's a little information about the tree. It was a Serbian spruce, which is on IUCN's list of threatened species. Also it has a very distinct look: very narrow spread, flattened needles that are green on the top and white on the bottom. For more information about the indecent (including a picture of the stump) and information on how to differentiate the Serbian spruce from other spruces in the area, check out my post: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Buster W.

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Cutting down a threatened species makes this even more disturbing!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Vandals, Please do your entire coniferous tree cutting adjacent to I-94 near exit 175. I've always eyed the trees at this location for a possible acquisition. Happy Holidays!

Buster W.

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Doesn't this happen just about every year???


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:16 p.m. should remove 'Holiday Mischief' from the title and 'grinchly' from the story. This is a tragedy and a crime and shouldn't be made light of.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

&quot;Mischief&quot; and &quot;Grinchly&quot; trivializes the extent of this vandalism. This is serious theft and vandalism, and it happens each year in the same location, the arboretum. Police should check the frat houses that are located nearby. It's really too bad that this continues to happen, and whoever is committing these acts of vandalism are punks.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

&quot;Holiday mischief &quot; Figure out the value and it goes beyond &quot;mischief&quot;. A better headline would read: Holiday Idiots!

Usual Suspect

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

This is so wrong. Didn't these people know that spruce Christmas trees are passé and doug firs are the trend now?