Autism Society victim of theft, as fruit trees go missing

Jimmy Everard spent hours planting trees in the Autism Society's garden, only to find several of them stolen on Friday morning.

Groundskeepers baffled to find seven shallow holes where trees used to stand

Jimmy Everard is a grounds assistant at the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. He was shocked to find trees he planted stolen from the ground on Friday. (CBC)

Jimmy Everard spent hours planting trees in the garden at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John's, only to find several empty holes in the ground this week.

"We worked really hard on this orchard garden and I was really surprised yesterday when a coworker told me that seven trees were stolen," he said.

According to Jeff Ronan, a staff member at the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, the trees were stolen from the garden he tends to with clients.

The garden is part of the Autism Society's transition program, helping clients with autism get ready to enter the workforce.

Jeff Ronan, a gardener with the Autism Society, says he doesn't understand who would steal from their garden. (CBC)

"I definitely didn't believe it," Ronan said of the apparent theft. "If you are the person who stole these trees, I'd like to know why."

'Totally unacceptable'

To add to the bizarre situation, the holes dug around the trees were too shallow to properly steal them, Ronan said. The thieves did not dig up the roots of the tree, but instead tore them out of the ground.

"They weren't exactly smart about it. Definitely a bit of karma for them. I doubt the trees will survive the transplant."

Some trees on the Autism Society of N.L. orchard were stolen, which shocked the people who planted them. 0:59

Everard, a grounds assistant with the society, says he helped plant the assortment of fruit trees during his first summer as a student employee in 2014.

"I think it was kind of sad, and it was totally unacceptable how somebody would steal trees from the property," Everard said.

The seven trees were a mix of apple, pear and cherry trees.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

As for Everard, he has a message for the thief or thieves who stole his fruit trees.

"Do not do it again, because I think what you did was wrong. We worked hard planting these trees here on this property."

With files from Anthony Germain