By Jessica Lovell
They are out there, lurking amid the greenery, and likely toting shovels and sporting gardening gloves.
“There’s obviously a tree thief out there somewhere,” says Sue Desautels.
This is because she and her husband returned to their Edwin Street home one day to discover that a 10- to 12-foot tree had disappeared from the boulevard in front of the house.
She believes the thief, or thieves, struck on a Friday in the middle of September, but she’s not entirely sure. That’s just when they noticed it was missing.
“The tree was dug up and soil was put back over the hole, and you wouldn’t have noticed it,” says Desautels.
The tree was a gift to her husband from one of his students at the University of Guelph around 15 years ago. It has stood on the boulevard since then. It shared the boulevard, between the sidewalk and the street, with a maple planted by the city and a cedar the Desautels planted in the last couple of years.
Desautels’ first thought was that the city had removed the tree, as it was on the boulevard and boulevards are covered by an encroachment bylaw.
But a call to the city cleared up the matter. She was assured the city would never remove a tree without notifying the residents.
The other two boulevard trees were left untouched in the heist.
Desautels calls the theft “bizarre” and is not sure of the motive.
“The tree was very beautiful,” she suggests.
She and her husband had believed it was an exotic species, but after the theft, they took leaves to Royal City Nursery to get help in identifying it. They were told it was a thornless honey locust, which is a deciduous tree that originated in North America.
A neighbour, who has since died, once expressed an interest in the tree, so Desautels is entertaining the possibility that the thieves had their eye on it for their own garden. “They must have been eyeing it for sometime,” she says.
The honey locust’s wood is also popular with wood carvers, but Desautels is holding out hope that wherever her woody friend has gone, it continues to thrive.
“I just hope that someone’s got it and they plant it and that it lives,” she says.