Fruit trees filched

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on February 14, 2019

SEVEN heritage fruit trees valued up to $1000 were stolen from Albany’s historic Strawberry Hill estate this week.

Volunteer coordinator Judy Williams discovered and reported the theft to Albany Police on Monday morning and believes the offence took place late on Sunday or in the early hours of Monday.

She said it had taken four years for the apple and pear trees to grow and it would be difficult to find replacements.

The trees had recently begun to flourish after fellow garden volunteers Frank McDonald and John Radys spent more than 30 hours replacing the clay that the trees were planted in with healthier soil.

Ms Williams estimated the trees’ value was close to $1000.

“We had 12 trees taken last year at the same time other people on Middleton Road had things taken from their gardens,” she told The Weekender.

“We received a grant to plant those ones for a heritage orchard, because part of Strawberry Hill’s aim is to capture the different time periods that people lived here in.

“We had spares to replace them when they were stolen, but we have no spares now.”

Mr Radys believes the thieves don’t understand the historic significance and value of the trees.

“Some of those fruit trees are very rare,” he said.

“I just don’t know whether we’d be able to replace them.

“Some can only be found in Tasmania or England.”

Ms Williams was both confused and disheartened with the theft.

“I think we’re so upset because they were just torn from us,” she said.

“The trees weren’t dug out, they were just ripped.

“And why would someone pull up trees in sum-mer?

“That’s just crazy.

“They aren’t likely to have any success with them.”

Albany Police Senior Sergeant Grant Pollard said there was no forensic evidence left at the scene or any CCTV footage.

He encouraged anyone with information about the incident to call Albany Police on 9892 9300.