Police: Grinches steal Christmas tree installed near State Street

Students return tree, not charged

Cameras caught students taking off with a downtown Madison Christmas tree worth hundreds of dollars Friday evening, according to a news release.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said a 150-pound tree was part of a collection of Christmas decorations installed in the State Street area by the Madison Central Business Improvement District.

The tree, in the 500 block of North Francis Street, just north of State Street, went missing in the night, police said.

Surveillance cameras in the area captured the University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman as they hauled the heavy tree several blocks to their fraternity house, the report said.

Officers arrived Friday and found the $400 tree at the home. The officers told the young men they could be cited for theft, a $691 violation, but that the business group wasn’t interested in criminal charges and just wanted the tree back.

The freshmen told police it was supposed to be a prank.

“Like the Grinch, the young men – some believe their hearts grew four times bigger that night – were moved and wanted to right a wrong,” DeSpain wrote in the news release. “So, with the help of the MPD they returned the tree and its concrete stand.”

The tree and other lights displayed throughout the State Street area are part of the Downtown Madison’s holiday celebration called “Shine On Madison,” a six-week series of events.

Police: Grinches steal Christmas tree installed near State Street