The Grinch who stole the Christmas tree: Steamboat Police investigate theft at downtown park |

The Grinch who stole the Christmas tree: Steamboat Police investigate theft at downtown park

Steamboat Springs Police Department officers opened an investigation into the alleged theft of a pine tree from Little Toots Park on Tuesday. The incident appears to have occurred the previous night. Officers believe the culprit or culprits cut down the tree to bring it home for a Christmas decoration.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It appears a Christmas crime, reminiscent of the Grinch’s infamous heist, has hit Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department is investigating the theft of a mugo pine tree from Little Toots Park in downtown Steamboat. An employee with Parks & Recreation noticed the hacked-away trunk and notified police of the incident around 11 a.m. Tuesday. 

Officer Jason Kasper responded to the scene, beginning an investigation into a crime the likes of which he has never seen in his career.

“I’m assuming it happened last night, ” Kasper said, adding the tree was taken “likely for use as a Christmas tree.”

Only the upper section of the tree had been chopped and stolen, he said, with pieces of the trunk and branches scattered around its base. The remaining stump, seen on a Facebook post from the Parks & Recreation department, shows multiple hack marks, as if the culprit or culprits used an axe rather than a saw.

“We know some folks wait ’til the last minute to get ready for Christmas, but this is taking it way too far,” Parks & Recreation Director Angela Cosby said in a news release. “Cutting down a tree in one of your city parks will definitely land you on the naughty list with Santa and the Steamboat Springs Police.”

The city planted mugo pines in the park to provide shade, according to Craig Robinson, manager of the city’s parks, open space and trails. The cut-down tree was about 30 years old, he said, meaning it has been in the park about as long as the nearby playground. 

Robinson described the mugo pine, which typically grows in a bushy cluster, as “ornamental.”

“It’s definitely not traditionally used as a Christmas tree,” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Kasper had no suspects or leads in his investigation. He is checking to see if there are any cameras in the area that may offer footage of the park. 

“It’s going to be difficult to investigate,” Kasper said.

He said such a crime would be considered criminal mischief, carrying a misdemeanor charge and a monetary fine. 

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Police Department at 970-879-1144. 

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