BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Bath Police Department is investigating the theft of 11 apple tree saplings from South End Park.
City arborist, Tom Hoerth, says he and culinary vocational students met on the last day of school last month and planted 35 apple trees.
The trees were planted with the help of an $8,000 state grant given to the community forestry program, Project Canopy.
"The thought was to have an orchard down here for students to manage, grow, and then collect the fruit to use in the class," says Hoerth. "Also if anyone else is down here to come and pick a nice piece of fruit."
Hoerth says when he came back to water the trees three days later...
"I noticed there were 5 [trees] missing at the north end."
Something that has never happened in Hoerth's 18 years working as city arborist.
"Usually it's vandalism."
Then theft happened again at the park.
"Like ten days later we came down and noticed this small cluster in here were missing."
Six more saplings were stolen from South End Park. All about an inch in diameter, so uprooting them may of have been easy. But Bath police say of stealing five and then another six apple trees... That is not easy.
"We believe it occurred sometime in the evening which still would have been difficult because these trees are almost six feet tall," says Cpl. Nathan Gould. "So pulling that out and carrying it... You'd have to have a vehicle nearby or on the road."
The stolen trees are worth $550. The theft is a misdemeanor.
The Bath Police Department is asking anyone with information about this theft to contact Bath's Criminal Investigation Division, and call 207-443-5563.