When Boy Scout Troop 26 Scoutmaster Donny Peterson arrived at the American Legion Sunday morning to help sell Christmas trees for the troop’s annual fundraiser, he noticed some trees had …
When Boy Scout Troop 26 Scoutmaster Donny Peterson arrived at the American Legion Sunday morning to help sell Christmas trees for the troop’s annual fundraiser, he noticed some trees had toppled over and some lightbulbs were missing from the strand. He was puzzled until he noticed one corner of the fenced-in yard looked a little bare.
Peterson quickly took inventory and realized several of the 4- to 5-foot trees were missing.
“We visually saw that one corner where a lot was not as full as it was the day before,” Peterson said. “So we got to counting how many trees we had left and how many we had sold. There were exactly 20 missing.”
The average cost of a grand fir tree at the Scout’s lot is about $55, putting the loss over $1,000. That’s revenue that was set to help the scouts afford youth leadership training in June. Peterson was angry and called the police to report the Saturday night theft.
Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt said Monday that the department is continuing to investigate the thefts. Anyone with information can call the department at 307-754-2212, call the crime tips line at 307-764-8477 or email email@example.com.
As word of the thefts got out, Peterson’s wife, Loretta, and Sarah DeBoer posted the disturbing news on social media asking for information to solve the crime. Then, to the troop’s surprise, people started coming to the yard to buy the stolen trees.
“You know, we were angry at first, but then the community really stepped up,” Peterson said. “People started coming and buying invisible trees.”
The scouts’ eyes “lit up” every time someone came to buy an invisible tree, he said. Another thoughtful patron donated some surveillance equipment to the troop, hoping to catch any future perpetrators.
“We’ve almost made up for all 20 that we lost,” he said. “I want to thank the community for making a bad situation better.”