Photo by the Associated Press
A local Christmas tree seller is asking for the community's help to return more than 50 Fraser firs that were stolen from her lot in front of the Tate High baseball field Tuesday night.
Suzanne Eaton, a 55-year-old Pensacola resident, said she lost an estimated $5,000 in tree sales. Her premium trees, which are grown in North Carolina, sell for as much as $120. A portion of her proceeds every year go to the Tate High School baseball team.
Eaton said she received a shipment of 300 trees Monday. When she arrived to work Wednesday morning, she found a trail of drag marks leading from where the missing Fraser firs had been.
Eaton reported the crime to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday morning, and now she's asking tree buyers to be on the lookout for a signature mark on her stolen trees. On the bottom of each tree's trunk is a dime-sized hole, drilled for the purpose of setting the decoration in a tree stand.
"If you're not selling a tree in a lot like mine, it's not going to have a hole in the bottom," Eaton said. "If someone comes to your door trying to sell you a tree, he probably didn't buy it from a grower."
She also said that her trees ranged in height from 5 feet to 12 feet.
Eaton said it was the first time in her 27 years of selling Christmas trees that a noticeable amount had been stolen. She was disappointed about the incident, but it didn't deter her from continuing her business.
"I do this business because once you start it, it's hard to stop," she said. "But I've got to figure out a system to protect what I do have."
Eaton asked that anyone with information about her stolen trees contact the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Pensacola News Journal