BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - A century-old tree has vanished without a trace from a Bonita Springs man's property. This particular tree is not only rare around this part of Florida, its wood is also quite valuable.
A walk through his property on Oakland Drive and Carpenter Lane Tuesday left Cullum Hasty scratching his head. "Things didn't look right," he said.
Hasty quickly realized his pride and joy, a 25-foot Southern Red Cedar was gone saying, "Oh my God, the tree is missing, how is that possible?"
No tracks. No branches. No evidence. It was nothing more than a flattened stump. "In other words, they purposely cleaned up their mess real well," Hasty said. "The tree had been cut down with a chainsaw, and that's no small tree."
Hasty believes the Cedar's sweet aroma made the tree a target, not to mention its valuable wood, worth thousands. "It's more valuable than the money," Hasty said. "It's history."
Dale Nottingham, who manages Lee County's Pollution Prevention Program says when the economy went down, tree thefts went up. Pine tree thefts from private properties are especially common in Lehigh Acres.
Was it deliberate or could it have been a mistake? One neighbor told us she saw workers in gray uniforms cutting down the tree. At the time, she thought it was just maintenance work.
Hasty says he's questioned government and utility agencies, but they know nothing about the Cedar. So for now, he's stumped. "I cant bring it back to life," Hasty said. "That's the sad part. The tree can't be there to look at anymore."
Hasty says he may offer a reward if no one comes forward. According to the Lee County Sheriff's report, whoever took it could be charged with grand theft.