140 trees stolen from Rougemont apple orchard
ROUGEMONT -- A Rougemont apple farmer is still in shock after thieves uprooted and made off with 140 trees from his orchard.
The robbery was discovered Saturday morning when the farmer found holes where the saplings used to be. They were all planted this season, said apple farmer Jeannot Alix.
“Each tree cost 11 dollars apiece,” he said, adding that with labour costs and lost production, he estimates the heist will cost him $5,000 in losses.
His insurance doesn't cover the losses because the stolen trees account for less than 3 per cent of his farm.
“The hardest part to take is it's too late in the season to transplant trees,” said Alix.
He said because the trees were too old to be uprooted, they will most likely only be useful for deer food.
“They did this for nothing,” he said.
The Surete du Quebec said it has no leads on potential suspects and it considers this apple tree heist an isolated incident.
Though there have been several local agricultural heists recently – most notably, $20 million of maple syrup disappeared from a Quebec warehouse last year – the SQ doesn’t believe this is part of a trend.
Local farmers agree.
“For the past 23 years that I’ve been an apple grower, it’s the first time I’ve heard something like that,” said Robert Babeu, president of the Apple Growers Association in the Monteregie, who called the thieves daring but foolish.
Babeu said Quebec's apple growing community isn't concerned.
“People will probably keep an eye out more than in the past, but I don't think another thing like that will happen again,” he said.
Alix says he's considering installing security cameras on his property to dissuade other bandits.