ORANGEVALE (CBS13) – A thief was caught on camera stealing fruit trees from a local church.

“Whatever produce we grew could go to those who really, really need it,” said Pastor Scott Guemmer with Christ the King Lutheran Church.

Those trees were planted in hopes of serving the community and they were uprooted and taken overnight.

“It was right before a worship. How could anybody do this?” he said.

Pastor Scott stood in disbelief Sunday morning hoping it was a cruel mistake, but as he played the surveillance video his fears were confirmed.

“They just dug around the tree and yanked it out and went on and stuffed it in, it looks like one of those rolling garbage cans, and walked right off the property,” he said.

It’s not your average grove, but it’s one grown by a local Eagle Scout troop.

“Projects are generally very complicated, very large, and this particular one was not just wooden boxes, dirt, and then trees,” said R.J. Smith who is a life scout. “It has irrigation and digging. It was a lot of work.”

Smith knows because he’s putting one like it together and said the troop before him must be devastated.

“(It) is really, really ambitious and great for the community and to see it vandalized is really disheartening,” he said.

The root of the project was to harvest loads of citrus fruit for the Orangevale Foodbank.

“Here are all these blessings and fruit form and we just thought of all the possibilities. Just imagine all the trees being filled with fruit,” said Pastor Scott.

While it’s a hard to imagine someone stealing the fruits of their labor, Scott said the thieves can’t rob them of their faith in the good brought to his church.

“I look at it as another opportunity for us to rebuild, regrow, and try it over again,” he said.

The plan is to replant new trees, but they are welcoming whoever stole these ones to bring the trees back.


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