Grinched

Thieves steal 75-100 Christmas trees from Shawano grower
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Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Dan Hanauer stands at the location where 75-100 Fraser fir trees were reported stolen. Trees are collected for shipment at this time of year, with most of the trees distributed just before Thanksgiving, Hanauer said.

An unknown individual or group displayed some distinctly Grinch-like behavior this weekend when stealing 75-100 Fraser fir trees from a local tree grower.

Dan Hanauer, of Hanauer’s Tree Farms in the town of Richmond, said the theft apparently occured late Sunday or early Monday.

The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident.

“They used a truck or trailer. You could clearly see the tracks in the snow, and you could see which piles they took them off,” Hanauer said.

The theft occured at the tree farm operational center, W7677 Christmas Tree Lane, Shawano.

With so many trees stolen, Hanauer suspects that they were intended for resale. Fraser firs are especially prized because they retain their needles longer than many other species, he said. They also have tough branches which hold ornaments well.

“Nobody is stealing these for personal use. They are doing this to sell them,” Hanauer said. “We are asking the public, if someone sees something for sale that seems to good to be true, say something.”

The missing trees were of assorted sizes, he said. They sell wholesale for $40-$90 each and will sell with a retail price of roughly double that amount. A garden center in Chicago had already paid for the trees and was expecting them to be delivered this week. They will have to get a refund, he said.

“We don’t just have trees ready to replace them,” Hanauer said.

Even if there were trees in the field, he explained, they would need to be cut and packaged.

“There’s the idea that ‘They’ve got thousands of trees.’ Yes, but we grew them, harvested them,” Hanauer said. “Our customer has been shorted; we are shorted. This is a real product with a real economic value.”

Hanauer’s Tree Farms, now in its 53rd year, is a full-time Christmas tree producer, Hanauer said. They sell wholesale trees throughout the U.S. and Canada. The family has nine farms in the Shawano area.

“This is not the first time trees were stolen,” Hanauer said, “but it is brazen to take that many. They had to drive right past the house to get them,” he said.