When a tree farmer near Pearl River, Louisiana, discovered that nine of his trees were destroyed by vandals, he hired "a whole lot of eyes" to watch his trees. The "eyes" were surveillance cameras. The use of the cameras led to the arrest of four teenagers, who now face criminal charges for vandalism.
The first episode of vandalism occurred over the Labor Day weekend when nine cypress trees on the farm were destroyed by individuals who broke off the trunks about one-an-a-half feet from the ground. The tree farmer asked the Louisiana State Department of Agriculture for assistance, and the agency installed several motion detection cameras. When the vandals struck again, the cameras caught them in the act. The cameras caught pictures of the suspected vandals climbing the trees to break the tree trunks.
Officials from the state Department of Agricultural reviewed the tapes and provided information to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's department arrested the alleged vandals. The suspects face felony damage to property charges.
The damage to the tree farm may not seem that great -- the owner estimated his financial loss as about $6,000 -- but the impact of a guilty verdict on the futures of the young suspects could be significant. Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney may prevent an indelible stain from their records. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced defense attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.
Source: New Orleans Advocate, "Arrests made in north shore tree farm vandalism that owner calls 'attack on Christmas'," Andrew Canulette, Sept. 26, 2017