Christmas tree thieves cut into Boy Scouts’ profits

MONKTON — Stolen trees and wreaths are cutting into the amount of money Monkton Boy Scouts can raise this year during their annual holiday fund-raiser.
Troop 525, which is selling Christmas trees and evergreen wreaths at the Monkton Friends Church in Monkton Ridge, is eyeing nearly $1,000 in lost sales after seven or eight Christmas trees and more than 20 wreaths have gone missing.
Scoutmaster Russ Baker says the Boy Scouts typically see one or two trees picked off every year, but the troop has always assumed that the thefts have come from individuals who can’t afford to purchase a tree of their own. This year, he said, the scale of the thefts is entirely different.
“It’s obvious that the stuff this year isn’t a onesie, twosie for personal use,” Baker said, speculating that the thieves have likely turned around and resold the stolen Christmas goods for their own profit.
The Monkton troop includes 32 Scouts, ranging in age from 11 to 17. Baker said it’s one of the larger Boy Scout troops in the area, and he ordered 20 percent more trees than usual this year after seeing community support for the Boy Scouts rise steadily over the past several years.
The money raised during the Christmas fund-raiser is typically divided up. Half goes to keep the troop running, and the rest is divvied up between the Scouts who volunteer at the tree sale. Each boy is paid an hourly “wage” for their volunteer time, which goes into an account the Scouts can use to fund troop activities. Baker said that the troop is planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park in two years, and many of the Scouts are saving up their Christmas tree earnings to help defray the cost of the trip.
Baker said he hasn’t heard of other Boy Scout troops running into similar problems with thefts at their own Christmas tree stands, though he pointed out that some of those stands are in more secure, visible spaces, which might discourage theft in the first place.
“Next year, we’ll approach this a little differently so the opportunity won’t be there for folks to steal,” Baker said.
The Boy Scouts will be selling their remaining trees and wreaths at the Monkton Friends Church on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trees sell for $25 a piece, and wreaths cost $10 or $13 each.
“We’re still going to make money, but we’re not going to make as much as we had hoped,” Baker said.

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