ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local landscaping employee was arrested and accused of ripping baby pine trees out of a state park in Sodus, only to plant them at his personal residence Tuesday evening.
Salvatore Vittozzi is the caretaker of Sodus’ Beechwood State Park in Wayne County, and lives inside the park. When he went to let his dogs out Tuesday, he told News 8 he saw an unusual sight: A Preston’s Tree & Landscape Service truck full of pine trees, driving out of the park.
Vittozzi then went to check the motion-activated security cameras, where he saw that same red pickup, empty, entering the park at 4:13 p.m.
It left 16 minutes later, full of baby pine trees.
“He didn’t go far,” Vittozzi said.
Vittozzi immediately contacted police, and went into the parking lot to investigate further. He said that Beechwood did not get many visitors Tuesday, so he was able to follow some footprints into the woods, where he found the ground ripped up, and several trees missing.
Troopers arrested Bradley Preston, 26, and charged him with petit larceny.
According to Aaron Preston, owner of Preston’s Tree & Landscape Service, Bradley Preston was not on the clock, and takes the truck home after work. He’d just bought a house, Aaron Preston said, and wanted to do some personal landscaping on his own property.
“To have anything removed from the state land out here is absolutely ridiculous,” Vittozzi said. “It doesn’t give me good feelings, that’s for sure. I’m actually a little bit surprised because we did have some incidents in the past, but the word is spread that I’m out here and we do have cameras.”
Preston said that while he didn’t want to excuse his off-the-clock employee, the man said he was not aware that taking the greenery from state parks is illegal. Preston said the employee turned the trees over to state police.
Vittozzi says that as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday he has not yet received the trees back at Beechwood, nor heard from the tree thief or anyone at Preston’s.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we continue to update this developing story.