You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Who stole trees from the Arb, presumably to use for Christmas?

By Amalie Nash

Two trees in Nichols Arboretum were chopped down and hauled off in recent days — presumably to be decorated and displayed in houses for the holidays, police said.

Cutting down trees there is illegal — a crime University of Michigan police say is particularly troubling since the popular Arb is a place for others to enjoy and conduct research.


Police say two trees were recently stolen from Nichols Arboretum.

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

The first tree theft was discovered on Dec. 8, but the tree was stolen between 9 a.m. Dec. 4 and 5 p.m. Dec. 5. Taken was a pine tree valued at $45, reports said.

The second tree disappeared between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9. According to reports, a 5-foot section of a Red Cedar tree was taken from the Laurel Ridge trail. It was valued at $30.

Campus police spokeswoman Diane Brown said one of the trees was cut down, and in the other case, a 5-foot section of a larger tree was sawed off.

Brown said police don't have any suspects, but if the thief or thieves are identified, they could face misdemeanor larceny charges. She said police don't know why the trees were taken, but it was likely so someone could use them for Christmas decorations.

The 123-acre arboretum operated by U-M is located on the eastern edge of Central Campus and is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Police asked anyone with information on the tree thefts to call campus police at 734-763-1131.



Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.

Whether this crime was perpetrated by a bunch of students or some other resident of A2 or elsewhere looking for a cheap holiday tree, it doesn't matter. The damage has been done, and the usual fines and slap on the wrist if the perps are caught are not enough. Vandalism is up all around town. Visit Gallup Park next spring (adjacent to the Arb) and look at the carvings in the wood benches or the graffiti on the bridges along the walking paths. Or check out all the graffiti on those cable communications "boxes" around town, tagged by some gang bangers. Some of those have been painted over, but it's disgusting nevertheless. Stealing these trees is just one more example of the deterioration of societal values all around us. Punishment should be much more than a slap on the wrist, if they are ever caught.


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 12:50 a.m.

Okay... I'm back and boy am I steaming mad! @mm1001: Recycle the trees? Think about this for a second, I'm pretty sure that even if you light it on fire-laughing/crying depending on your mental state-then extinguish it with a flavorful mixture of deer urine and iodized salt, you'd still be recycling the tree. There's NO real way you can NOT recycle it; unless of course you want to spend an obscene amount of money blasting all the dead "holiday trees" up into outer space, but even that would be a viable and attractive alternative to your asinine idea of installing tracking chips in to something that doesn't need it let alone wouldn't want you drilling holes into it to install said chip. Fin ------------------ @Mark O'Brien: Although trees don't/can't always reproduce on specific land coordinates such as the exact same spot another was taken from... I'm pretty sure they're self-sustaining organic life forms that reproduce without the aid of your wretched green thumbs. So let it go with not only the laughable, yet questionable source of the price for said trees, but let it go about these supposed labor costs... trees don't charge you to watch them have sex, so why should we pay your wife to artificially inseminate the land and at the same time watch trees have sex... just let it go. Fin... ----------------------- @gardeningguy: Please validate your prices and your dubious quote of "discount prices". When said facts are validated you will be more than just a bitter tree-father who lost his little "whipper-sappling" Fin... ----------------------- @Tim: Your assumption of theft by an unknown, unemployed worker have validity, except for one minor detail... if they are stealing a tree, they probably have a domicile to set said tree up in, so they have to have some sort of money to afford to steal a tree that needs more money put into it for lights and transportation of tree. Plus, I doubt that a homeless person pilfered the trees, due to the obviousness of crime when someone sees a 5 foot red cedar pine tree standing up inside of a cardboard box house tucked away down some dim lit alley. Fin.......Fin....


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11:01 p.m.

Yes, I would also like to know how the value of the stolen trees was determined. It seems to me like they pulled those numbers out of their you-know-whats.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 8:27 p.m.

How do they determine value of said tree(s)? I didn't know that trees have a man made dollar value. They should charge for rain water and fresh air. Everything is a commodity!


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

@ Blerg, I cited the same story and frat house only to have my comments censored. Nice work Blerg.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

These trees — formerly festive pagans in the arboretum — died for our sins. As to whether they were crucified by Romans or Greeks, we can only guess. Their crucifixes may consist of tree stands into which you pour a little water.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

This has happened in the past, and I know at least one previous theft was traced to a campus fraternity house after the culprits posted pictures of it online.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

p.s. They were probably cut down by someone who was unemployed and could not afford a tree. Perhaps Stimulus money can be used to replant these trees.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

All you have to do is follow the trail... of goodness...


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

$30?? Where can you buy a 5 foot tree for $30?


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

This does happen every year so why don't the U. of M. Police watch for it? Oh, yeah. It's students who do it and they don't get busted. I thought that in Michigan we had a law that says destroy a tree and pay triple damages, not just a replacement value?


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

Mark O'Brien: Why do you have to be sexist and assume "men" did this? Where in the article is it mentioned that this crime was done by a man. Just because most crimes are committed by men don't assume this one was as well. As a man I get very angry when people assume I'm a criminal.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

One can only hope that whoever took them will that they will recycle them when they are done with them. Here is a thought how about chipping the trees then they could be tracked down if they are stolen.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

Let's hope those trees are okay. I'm worried they might have been stolen to be used for tree fighting.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

"popping" in trees really isn't that easy for the small department that operates and maintains the arb on a limited budget, so anyone is welcome to join a volunteer day... i'm sure the "value" of those trees were the prices of the trees when they were first purchased... on a discount probably... and they don't mention the value of the staff time in putting in trees.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 11 a.m.

"...they could face misdemeanor larceny charges..." yes they could, but over $75 of property (trees)...cost$ more in police resources, not to mention writing about it and posting it here...heck, i just lost $75 reading and posting this. were they cut or dug up? story doesn't say.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

Urban Sombrero is right. FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US! It's almost time for the yearly airing of grievances and the feats of strength.

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

This would never have happened if people would just celebrate Festivus instead.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Nothing says christian values like stealing a Christmas tree!


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

There is a tendency to excuse this type of stupid vandalism. That is the wrong attitude. I recall this happening almost every year, which, no doubt, has an impact on the overall health and appearance of the Arb environment. Somebody must know about these foolish jokers "prank". Do the right thing and let the police know about it. You can do it anonymously.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

Not only is such a crime stupid and selfish, they are always perpetrated by young men that have not figured out "right" and "wrong." Maybe alcohol is involved, maybe they are students, maybe they don't feel they they and their housemates should have to pay $40 for a real tree, or get a fake one for next to nothing at the Recycle /Reuse center. I'm sure the idiots that do this can come up with all sorts or rationalizations for their boorish behavior. If caught, they should be made to cough up the actual cost of what one pays to buy and plant a tree of the same size... and it's going to be a lot more than $50. My wife is one of the horticulturists that maintain the Arb. Having this sort of thing happen is taken very personally.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

Pop in a couple of new one's in the Spring. Now if there were 20 trees missing it might be close to a news story.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

To whomever stole those trees: thanks for the selfishness, now you can look at the dead tree in your living room for a month rather than letting it live out its life in the Arb where the rest of the city can enjoy it.


Wed, Dec 15, 2010 : 8:04 a.m.

This happens almost every year. Last year a very tree and irreplaceable treewas chopped down. It's very unfortunate.