NORRIDGEWOCK — A Christmas tree farm is feeling the loss of about $2,000 in stolen trees and wreaths this year including about a dozen Christmas trees that disappeared overnight on Saturday.
“I’m just getting tired of it, and that’s why I called the police today, just to have an officer come over,” said Todd Murphy, owner of Trees to Please on Smithfield Road.
Murphy said he had just stocked the already-cut trees Saturday night at around 5 p.m., only to discover that about a dozen of them were gone when he arrived at the tree farm Sunday morning. The 26-acre farm sells cut-your-own as well as already cut trees, wreaths and other holiday decorations.
The alleged theft occurs the day after a wreath was stolen and a week after about 20 trees were taken by people who did not pay for them. Most trees cost $30 each, so the loss of the trees that were taken Saturday night or Sunday morning represents a loss of about $400.
Hundreds of people visit the farm each weekend in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and sometimes they don’t pay, Murphy said. This year Murphy moved the already-cut trees to a pavilion behind the farm’s gift shop in the hopes of deterring people from taking them overnight, but it hasn’t worked. So far this year, he estimates he has lost about $2,000 in stolen merchandise.
“For a seasonal business that’s pretty substantial. We’re only open four weeks a year. It’s a feel-good product and we operate largely on an honor system. When it gets really busy sometimes people don’t want to wait and they just leave,” he said.
The farm has security cameras and is well-lit at night, Murphy said, and although there is a gate at the entrance to the farm, it is not locked overnight. Normally, Murphy estimates about two percent of trees and other merchandise are not paid for, but this year he thinks about five percent of his product has been taken without any money exchanged.
If people continue to steal, he said he will have no option but to raise the prices on the trees.
“You’re never going to catch a thief, but you can slow it down. We want people to know that we know it’s going on,” he said.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368