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Christmas Trees Stolen From Maine Farm

The owner of a Maine Christmas tree farm says customers are taking advantage of his business' honor system by stealing trees and wreaths.

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    The owner of a Maine Christmas tree farm says customers are taking advantage of his business' honor system by stealing trees and wreaths. (Published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014)

    It's the latest in a string of Christmas crimes in Maine. A real life Grinch has been stealing trees and other holiday items from a farm in Norridgewock.

    The owner of Trees To Please said it came to a head when he showed up for work Sunday and noticed a dozen fresh cut balsams had disappeared. Todd Murphy says it's not the first time his retail operation has been "grinched."

    "I've been noticing it since 2009," said Murphy.

    Murphy says during this most wonderful time of the year, trees, wreaths and kissing balls all disappear from his lot on the Smithfield road. Scrolling through footage on a surveillance camera he mounted out front, Murphy showed a clip of a man taking a wreath over the weekend.

    "He never went inside to pay. It's very obvious," he said.

    On the face of it, it's a crime that doesn't seem to make much sense. Maine is the most forested state in the country- it's 90 percent trees. Murphy says the public might assume that it doesn't cost much to grow them, but he says the thefts add up to thousands of dollars. Every tree takes between seven and 13 years to mature.

    Murphy's 28 acre farm has 24,000 trees in different stages of development. The money he makes in the short three to four week window between Thanksgiving and Christmas has to carry his business through the entire year. Murphy says given the volume of trees disappearing, he's convinced the Grinch may be a competitor.

    "My thought is they're already set up somewhere and just running out of trees," said Murphy.

    That's why Murphy finally called the Somerset County Sheriff's Department to make a formal complaint. He wants the thieves to know it's not a victimless crime. He says Trees to Please can only be a part of peoples' holiday tradition, if the real life Grinches stop taking money out of his pocket. If they don't, he says he may have to raise his prices, or give up the retail operation and go back to strictly wholesale.

    "It's a feel good business," said Murphy. "I want it to feel good for everyone."

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