1 Arrested for Cutting, Stealing Tree Burls in Boston

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Boston Police were stumped by the rash of tree crimes; tree burls can be worth hundreds of dollars (Published Friday, Jan 17, 2014)

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Boston) - Place this on the list of crimes most of us have never heard about until Wednesday: Boston Police have arrested a man for allegedly cutting off tree burls.

    Burls are a sight many have surely seen on trees. Burls look like large warts or bumps and form when the tree has an infection - and they can be worth hundreds of dollars.

    Now one guy is under arrest for allegedly cutting them off and stealing them.

    "This is the very first one I discovered, and most of it has been cut off, you can see where they tried to get more of it and just didn't," said Boston City arborist Greg Mosman.

    He thought little of the cut section of tree in a remote area of Franklin Park this spring, a burl as it's called, only partially removed.

    But then a pattern started to emerge. Reports came from Brookline and Watertown about the vandalism on trees.

    Thieves were using chainsaws to cut the burls off.

    In fact, on Tuesday, a huge burl was cut off a linden tree on Evans Way, right by the Wentworth dorms, the sawdust still beneath it.

    One can get a look at the quality of the grain, which gives it its value.

    "It's for woodworking. Somewhere in between $50 and $500, and I guess the thing of it is, you don't know how good they are until you cut into them," Mosman said

    And then, earlier today, Mosman says some men were seen cutting into some burls at the Friends of the Fenway Victory Gardens.

    Police later made an arrest at 15 Park Drive, right across from the garden.

    Mosman says one of the men was a woodworker and had his craft in the apartment.   

    "He had some pretty nice stuff actually. He had some bowls and then others that were slabs that were sanded, polished, maybe for an end table, something like that," Mosman said.

    But in addition to the crime of stealing the wood, there can be long term harm done by defacing the tree.

    "It's all so bizarre to me, I mean, obviously I'm a tree lover, it's my job, it's what I do, but it's just one other thing in the city, that you scratch your head," Mosman said.
     
    Police arrested 44-year-old Mike Scanlan, and will be charged with willful and malicious destruction of property.

    Mosman told us he fears copycats.