Watch: Hundreds of Christmas trees stolen from family firm that once supplied Harry and Meghan
A group of thieves were caught on camera backing a van up to the gate of the tree-filled compound belonging to Pines & Needles in Wimbledon Park, London, which neighbours also spotted and promptly reported to the police.
Onlookers are said to have described watching the men “decimating” the Christmas stock, with the thieves believed to have made several journeys to and from the yard, loading up with more tress each time and making away with more than £3,000 worth of stock.
Company owner Josh Lyle described the incident as “sickening”, saying the business has suffered enough due to the Covid restrictions enforced by the government.
Mr Lyle told reporters that Pine & Needles had been “hammered already this year”, saying the team’s job is “to spread Christmas cheer to everyone in the UK” but that “this is a real kick in the teeth and we’re asking for people who may have information to come forward and notify the police”.
“This was a pretty brazen act in a well-lit yard right at the Wimbledon Park Road entrance, so we are hoping they get their comeuppance,” he said on Saturday.
A spokesman for Pines & Needles said the business was meant to open on Wednesday, the day after the trees were stolen, following the government’s decision to categorise shops and stalls selling real Christmas trees as “essential retail”.
Businesses selling real Christmas trees were given the green light to reopen during the current lockdown, before other non-essential retail returns next week, and have been open alongside supermarkets and other essential shops since 21 November.
Pines & Needles was founded by brothers Josh and Sam Lyle back in 1995 when they were aged just 15 and 13, making headlines in 2016 for supplying Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex with a tree during the early months of the couple’s relationship.
The company has a longstanding history of empowering workers usually based in third world countries and conflict zones during the year, by hiring them to work over the Christmas season.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they were contacted on Friday night following the theft and said no arrests had been made and enquiries remain ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD6599/27Nov.
Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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