The Dundalk Optimist Club had 130 Christmas tree stands, used for its an annual Christmas tree fundraising sale, stolen from the rear of its property last month.
The theft is believed to have occurred between April 1 and April 24, according to a police report filed last week. Along with the Christmas tree stands, 300-400 pieces of 12-inch to 18-inch rebar, used to sink the tree stands into the ground, were also taken from the property.
The Dundalk Optimist Club is in the 4500 block of North Point Blvd. The Christmas tree stands were valued at $1,000, the rebar at $500.
“The Christmas tree stands were made out of galvanized pipe, 5 inches in diameter, and about 8 inches long, and were put into the ground to stand the trees up,” said Shirley Panuska, the Dundalk Optimist Club treasurer. "They allowed the trees to stand up and fill out, so people could really see what they were buying."
The annual Christmas tree sale is the largest Optimist fundraising event of the year, Panuska said, adding that the club sells 300 trees annually.
“They were all the way back on the property, behind a trailer,” Panuska added. “Someone must have been scouting around.”
Butch Frank, a member of the Optimists' Christmas tree committee, said the tree stands had been built by club members. Most likely, he said, "A"-shaped wood frames will be built to replace the stolen stands.
"Hopefully, we can find somebody to donate the 2x4's," Frank said.
Proceeds from Christmas tree sales go to support the Optimist Club’s numerous youth programs, including support for teams in the Dundalk-Eastfield rec leagues and a leadership program for high school students. Among other efforts, the Optimists also give a Dundalk Citizen of the Year Award and Precinct 12 Police Officer of the Year.
In an interview with Patch Monday, North Point station commander Capt. Woodland M. “Butch” Wilson III said that scrap metal theft continues to be a problem locally, at least partly because of the number of recyclers in the area.
“Both [Baltimore County Police Chief James W. Johnson] and local legislators are pushing for greater restrictions on local scrap metal recycling,” Wilson said.