Surrey: Man arrested after dozens of trees illegally cut down

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A man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after more than 30 trees were illegally cut down in Surrey, police have said.

Officers were first alerted to the damage last month after residents noticed a number of trees had been cut down in Elmbridge overnight.

In the last month, more trees were cut down, some of which were left across the road and led to traffic disruption in the area.

Surrey police said they received a fantastic response from residents, which allowed investigating officers to identify a vehicle believed to be connected to the damage.

A search of the vehicle and an address found several chainsaws and wood chippings.

A 24-year-old man from Weybridge, was later arrested and remains in custody.

Inspector Bert Dean, borough commander for Elmbridge, said: "This is an encouraging development in this investigation. We continue to piece together the evidence we have.

"Thank you again to the local community for their ongoing patience and support."

Residents formed a Facebook action group called Elmbridge Tree Patrol to try and stop what they described as "mindless vandalism".

Memorial trees were also cut down in the spate of incidents, leaving families devastated.

Resident Tony Callaghan told Sky News: "It just seems to be nothing more than spiteful. There does not seem to be any other reason for it."

He said the chain-sawing had been going on for at least a month and around 50 trees had been destroyed.

"One of the recent trees had a bouquet placed on it and was a memorial to someone's mother - it's really sad," he said.

He said the first trees to be targeted were ones lining the River Thames between Weybridge and Walton-on-Thames, as well as into the neighbouring town of Cobham.

There was then a short period where the feller appeared to have stopped, but last weekend another eight were chopped down.

"These were really nice cherry trees, just about to blossom," Mr Callaghan added.