UWPD traces stolen Arboretum tree back to banned fraternity

UW Arboretum tree theft

MADISON, Wis. — UW-Madison police say they’ve cited three students in connection to the theft of a  25-foot tall tree from the Arboretum last November.

UWPD officials say they received a community tip on Monday, March 22nd that led them to Chi Phi, a fraternity that was banned by the university in 2015 for hazing and is no longer recognized as an official student organization.

Officers interviewed three members of Chi Phi who admitted to buying a chainsaw, renting a U-Haul truck and stealing the tree while pledging for the organization. The students — identified as 19-year-old Cameron Krahn, 19-year-old Cody Knepprath and 19-year-old Joshua Michels — said they destroyed the tree and got rid of it outside the City of Madison when they found out UWPD was investigating.

The three students were ticketed for removing the tree from the Arboretum and fined $200.50 each.

The rare Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain Pine Tree was cut down and removed from the Arboretum sometime between November 5th and November 9th last year. Arboretum staff estimated the cost of the tree was at least $13,000.