Published: Oct 03, 2011 11:07 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 05, 2011 4:46 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.- On Tuesday, October 4, 2011 an arrest was made in the case of the “Bonsai Bandit.” 

Raymond T. Shepard, 50, of 1434 Charles Road in Fort Myers, was arrested at his home shortly before 9:00 p.m.

Widespread media coverage of the surveillance video assisted in the investigation. After seeing the video, witnesses contacted the sheriff’s office with information on a possible suspect. Detectives quickly acted on these leads and were able to recover the stolen property at the suspect’s home. 

Original report:

Lee County deputies are looking for the man who stole a $5,000 tree Sunday from the entrance of the Lee County Election Center.

With that kind of price tag, you know it wasn't just any old tree.  In fact, it's known as a bonsai tree, trees that date back 1,500 years to China.  Bonsai trees became popular in the U.S. after World War II, when soldiers brought them home from Japan. The stolen bonsai tree was sitting in a custom made display following the annual Bonsai Show this past weekend at the Election Center located at 13180 South Cleveland Avenue. 

As seen in the surveillance video, the male suspect simply picked up the tree and carried it away.  He then loaded it into either a white jeep or silver car.  The suspect is a white male, approximately 6 feet tall with a heavy build.

If you know anything about this Bonsai Bandit, call the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (239) 477-1000.  Or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.  Anonymous tips may also be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org, through the TipSubmit app on any iPhone or by texting CRIMES (274637) Keyword: REWARD.