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East Valley Focus

VAN NUYS : College Seeks Public's Aid in Theft of Trees

August 20, 1994|FRANK MANNING

Valley College is seeking help from the public in recovering 29 Italian cypress trees that were stolen from school grounds over the past week.

"This is public property; these are taxpayers' dollars, and so this basically is a theft from the community," college President Tyree Wieder said. "I'm disappointed in my fellow citizens."

School officials believe the trees, worth about $150 each, were stolen by someone who plans to sell them, said Roger Baehne, the school's principal gardener.

The bases of the trees are painted an orange color, which would make them easy to spot, said Baehne, who urged anyone seeing the trees to report it to the police. They also can call the school at (818) 781-1200, Ext. 301.

The trees, 10 to 12 feet high, had only been in the ground about a year and the root systems had not yet established themselves, Baehne said. The root systems had been removed along with the trees.

He estimated that they weighed 200 pounds each after they were removed from the ground.

"They had to be either one very strong person, or two people," he said.

In the first theft, Baehne said, 15 trees were taken Monday night or Tuesday morning. In the latest theft, he said, 14 trees were taken either Thursday night or Friday morning from a landscaped strip behind the stadium near Hatteras Street.

The school started painting the bases of the trees after nine cypresses were stolen about five years ago, Baehne said.

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