Thief Steals Four Citrus Trees from Orangevale Church

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ORANGEVALE -- A sense of shock and surprise still exists among church members and the pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Orangevale after a thief upset efforts to feed the hungry.

The church and an Eagle Scout troop installed a mini orange orchard of six trees in August in hopes of providing Mandarin oranges to the Orangevale Food Bank for years to come. But Sunday morning, Pastor Scott Guemmer discovered four of the small trees missing.

“Shock, surprise, maybe a little bit of anger .... why would anyone do this?” said Guemmer.

Church security cameras caught the thief on video digging up one of the trees and placing it in a plastic garbage can that was wheeled away with a small dolly. The trees were easily dug up because the ground was wet from the rain.

Oddly enough, the trees were not surrounded by a fence as are several apple trees from a separate project. That is because the church knows there are homeless people in the area.

“If they need food, by all means take it ... taking the tree was beyond what we were expecting,” said Guemmer.

Still Pastor Scott, as he is known, refuses to bad mouth the thief and said Christmas was a season for forgiveness.

“He probably needed them more than we did,” said Guemmer.

He says he is hoping that something good will come out of the incident although he doesn’t know what. He says the church will move on and replant the orchard.