Apple tree heist leaves Quebec orchard bare

Apple orchard owners in Rougemont, Que., made an infuriating discovery when they realized an entire field of young apple trees had been stolen Friday night.

Owner says 140 stolen saplings will likely die of dehydration

Thieves made off with 140 young apple trees from Jeannot Alix's orchard in Rougemont, Que. (Allison Northcott)

Apple orchard owners in Rougemont, Que., made an infuriating discovery when they realized an entire field of young apple trees had been stolen Friday night.

"The people who did this are idiots. The trees won't survive this time of year. They must be drying out right now. They did it all for nothing," said Jeannot Alix, who owns the orchard about an hour's drive from Montreal.

Alix said the value of the trees is about $1,700, but when he includes the cost of labour and the lost profits, his family will lose about $5,000. 

The Alix family has had apple trees stolen on other occasions, but never so many at one time.

"We've had one, two or three stolen from time to time. They say it's people who take them and replant the trees on their property, but 140, that's something else!" said Diane Alix, Jeannot's wife.

Provincial police said they have already closed the case because they don't have enough leads to pursue. 

"It was an isolated incident that happened overnight," said Sûreté du Québec investigator Sgt. Stéphane Manuri. "There is absolutely no evidence to allow us to continue the investigation."

Manuri said he has never seen a crime like this before.

The Alix family said the loss is not high enough to be covered by the Quebec Crop Insurance Program and home insurance does not protect against this type of theft.

This is not the first instance of large-scale horticultural theft in Quebec.

In the past year, thieves have stolen large quantities of corn, maple syrup and garlic.