ULSTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police are calling it a heartless holiday crime. Thieves stole dozens of Christmas trees from the Boy Scouts.
But as CBS 2’s Don Dahler found out on Monday, this story of a holiday Grinch has become a reflection of the spirit of the season.
At around 1:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, an Ulster police officer noticed something was wrong at the Boy Scout tree lot.
“One of the patrols actually drove up to this location and saw the Christmas tree sign and wooden gate area that fences it in knocked over,” Ulster Police Chief Anthony Cruise said.
Paul Vanderkruik oversees the lot.
“I arrived at about 2 a.m. and someone had pulled over the entire front of our stand. It looked like they had hooked a chain to it and just drove in,” the Scout camp ranger said.
In all, 60 Christmas trees were missing. They were trees the Scouts were selling to raise money for their camp. The stolen trees amounted to a loss of about $3,000.
“That’s a major amount. We’re a small council. We serve Ulster County and Greene County, about 1,600 to 2,000 kids. We’ve got a pretty small budget and $3,000 is a lot,” Rip Van Winkle Council Scout executive Raymond Braun said.
When asked what the reaction was from some of Scouts, Vanderkruik said, “They were sad, but they took a stiff upper lip. The next morning, Friday morning, they were here to rebuild. Yeah, 7 a.m. they were here.”
It takes a pretty heartless person to steal Christmas trees from Boy Scouts on Thanksgiving morning, but before you start feeling too bad about humanity, read the rest of this story.
People began dropping by to make donations. And then a competitor down the road, Adams Fairacre Farms, a large grocery store that also sells Christmas trees, donated 60 of theirs to replace the ones stolen.
“I was hurt. I was very hurt about what had happened to them and I just thought we needed to help,” Jason Becker of Adams said.
Braun was overwhelmed by the generosity.
“Unbelievable. Unbelievable. I feel like Jimmy Stewart. I feel like, you know, it’s a wonderful life,” Brain said.
And there it is – a Hollywood ending in a town that never forgot what this season is really all about.
Ulster police have no suspects. The theft was the second Christmas tree theft in upstate New York this year. A trailer with 350 trees was stolen from a farm last week.
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