Christmas Tree Theft Epidemic

This is pretty wrong. But sounds like the makings of a so-bad-it’s-entertaining movie starring Sinbad, Billy Bob Thornton, or Affleck (during the J. Lo years).

Fortune: In recent weeks, police across the country have seen an uptick in the theft of trees from commercial lots. In Baytown, Tex., cops caught a man earlier this month trying to take several holiday trees off a lot. In Portland, Ore., police nabbed a man last week dragging a stolen tree down the street around 3 a.m. Officials in Hillsborough County, Fla., are investigating a Christmas tree crime spree, with more than 20 stolen from one lot owner alone.

… Sales of fresh Christmas trees have been on an upswing since 2002, with approximately 31 million sold last year for a retail value of $1.3 billion, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. But with little evidence of any black market for Christmas trees, and a six-foot fir costing as much as $200, officials suspect this year’s thieves are likely stealing trees for their own living rooms.

Lush firs aren’t the only Christmas adornments being taken – holiday trim has become hot loot as well. The Garden Patch in Raynham, Mass., a garden centre near Boston, lost $1,500 worth of Christmas decorations to thieves on Thanksgiving night. Owner Cathy Berlo says stolen items included table runners, Victorian ornaments and small tabletop arrangements. A few days later, a $120,14-foot fir was snatched.

Some bad Santas are even swiping d├ęcor from charities. An artificial tree that had the names of needy children asking for gifts pinned to it was stolen from the lobby of a post office in Sorrento, Fla. And on Thursday, police charged a 40-year-old woman near Grand Rapids, Mich., with larceny for allegedly swiping toys donated to the Salvation Army.

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