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April 2, 1999

Contact: Geoffrey Ryan (DEP) (718/595-5371)

DEP Police Report Tree Cutting Scam

Two males reportedly approached an elderly couple, who are homeowners in the Town of Hamden, and said that they were cutting trees in the watershed for the City of New York. They claimed to have cut a neighbor's trees and wanted to cut trees on the couple's property. The men asked the couple to accompany them outside to see the trees that had to be cut. The men then told the couple that they would have to pay $440.00 in cash for the job to be completed. The couple said they did not have that kind of money in the house. The men then said that they would accept a $100 bill for the job. One of the men used a portable CB radio to communicate with another party.

After the men left the premises, it was discovered that one or more accomplices had gained access to the house, broken open a safe, and stolen various items including, a small amount of money and bank books. The same crew was reported in the Binghamton area two hours later, and similar incidents have occurred recently in Greene and Yates Counties.

One of the men was approximately five feet nine inches with dark hair and a mustache extending below the corners of his mouth. The other man was approximately six feet, weighing 200 pounds, with dark hair. Both men were neatly dressed. The person or persons who gained access to the house were not seen.

The men reportedly were driving a maroon, late model, full size pickup truck with a maroon cap without side windows. A similar vehicle had been reported in the other incidents.

The incident was reported to New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Police at the Downsville Precinct. DEP Police are working with the Delaware County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies across the watershed.

"This is clearly a scam," said DEP Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E. "The City has not hired or otherwise authorized anyone to cut trees on private property. If anyone else in the watershed is approached by people claiming to be employed for this purpose, they should notify their local sheriff and police agencies immediately, as well as the DEP Police."

The 24-hour phone number for DEP Police is (914)245-6694. All DEP personnel are required to carry Departmental Identification with a photograph of the staff member.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600