Gardaí Called in to Stop Christmas Tree thefts

Gardaí Called in to Stop Christmas Tree thefts


Irish Christmas tree growers are busy chopping down trees, ready to sell for our Christmas celebrations. But little did we know the growers have had to act like ninja lumberjacks and fight off tree-robbers.


The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association (ICTGA) are working with An Garda Síochana to launch a campaign aimed at preventing Christmas tree thefts, a problem which is a scourge to the industry. Growers have recently been forced to install security solutions on their plantations. And not only that, harvesting depots have also had to set up security operations to stop the trees being nabbed while they are in storage. Growers are annoyed that it has come to this, considering that it takes around 7-10 years for a Christmas tree to grow to two metres in height.

The Christmas tree industry is big business. Who knew, right? Around 350,000 trees were purchased in Ireland in 2015. That’s 350,000 trees that by January have lost their needles which are now mashed into the carpet. These 350,000 trees have also been attacked by the cat, had whiskey spilled on them by Grandad, have been eaten by the toddler, and have had the dog from next door pee on them. You gotta love a real tree.

Sales of trees could increase to 400,000 plants in 2016. The ICTGA estimate that the industry is worth €21 million to the economy. Again, who knew, right?

Operation Hurdle, aimed at combatting Christmas tree thefts, is to be re-launched later this month. Since Operation Hurdle was first introduced three years ago, growers say that there has been a dramatic decline in the problem. ICTGA spokesperson Dermot Page said, “This is a really positive move. The support from the Garda combined with improved tagging systems and security measures at different Christmas tree farms have made a huge difference. We are appealing to all growers, and indeed the public, to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity near Christmas tree farms in the coming weeks.”

Page said the recent cold snap has been ideal for harvest, which involves cutting trees and leaving them on the ground for a minimum of two days to allow them to “close down” before being netted.

The tradition of having a Christmas tree in the house only sprung forth in Ireland after the 1940s. And it wasn’t the whole tree that was being used at the time. It was just the top of the tree that was brought into the house. The tree of choice in the 1940s was a Norway spruce.  As the trend of having a Christmas tree spread, people stopped chopping the top off the trees and bought a whole tree instead. And now, we have the modern Christmas tree.

Alas. As more homes got central heating, the Norway Spruce became a bit of a pain. The tree would start to shed its needles a few hours after it was inside a toasty warm house. So people ditched the Norway Spruce and instead made fir trees the tree of choice. The fir tree is better simply because a warm house doesn’t make them get naked of their needles in a matter of days.

The most popular tree these days is the Nordmann Fir, which has a dark green needle. Other species in demand are the Noble Fir, Fraser Fir, Korean Fir, and Lodgepole Pine.

The Nordmann fir and the Noble fir don’t grow well in countries such as France and England. These trees do however grow really well in Ireland. So Irish farmers are cashing in on the export of Christmas trees. As long as the robbers don’t steal their harvest first!

Some interesting Christmas tree facts:




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