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Rare Tree Theft

( Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
This Nov. 12, 2020 photo shows the stump of rare, 25-foot tall Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain pine tree which was cut down and stolen from the UW Arboretum in Madison, Wis.

Police who were stumped by the theft of a rare pine tree in November from the University of Wisconsin Arboretum say they have cracked the case. UW-Madison police said Friday that three 19-year-old university students stole the tree as a “pledge” activity for the Chi Phi fraternity, which hasn't been recognized as an official student organization since 2015. Police say they acted on a tip. The three admitted to purchasing a chainsaw, renting a U-Haul and stealing the 25-foot Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain pine. Each of them was cited for removing the tree, which is punishable by a $200 fine.

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