'Malicious damage': Street tree vandalism outrage as councillors turn to police

ORANGE City Council will call on police to come down hard on two vandals who took to a street tree in Edward Street with a chainsaw shortly after midnight on Sunday night.

An Edward Street resident, who declined to be named, said she initially thought she was dreaming when she saw the two men aged about 18 or 19 sawing at the tree at about 12:15am.

“They were going at it from both sides and they were trying to push it down,” she said.

“They didn’t finish it off, but it’s pretty bad.

“It was a medium-sized tree that was still growing.

“It wasn’t in anyone’s way.”

The resident contacted police and gave them a description of the offenders and the house they ran into, but police did not attend.

“The police should really follow it up,” she said.

“Who’s to say the chainsaw wasn’t stolen?”

Canobolas Local Area Command Inspector Dave Harvey said police patrolled the area after receiving the call, but were unable to find the offenders.

“If any member of the public has any information contact Orange police,” he said.

Cr Reg Kidd described the incident as the “worst case of vandalism to a street tree” he had ever heard after he was contacted by the resident.

At Tuesday’s council meeting he criticised the police response, saying the half-sawn tree was now a danger for residents and an extra cost for council to replace.

“They said ‘it’s not a matter for us, ring council’,” he said.

“I move that council write to police and say this is vandalism and ask what happened with this [resident].”

Cr Kidd said the council should seek compensation from the offenders to pay for the costs of replacing the damaged tree.

“If I could ever catch or prove who did it, they should have to do community work on gardens around Orange and have to pay for the tree,” he said.

But general manager Garry Styles said a claim for civil compensation wouldn’t be worth the effort.

Cr Glenn Taylor was also concerned about the incident and said if vandals were caught destroying trees they should be charged.

“The most amazing thing about it is police said it’s not their business ... it’s malicious damage,” he said.

“Chainsaws are not delicate instruments, they can cause a lot of damage.

“It’s unprecedented and one of the most moronic things I’ve heard.”

Cr Scott Munro urged his fellow councillors to be “respectful of police” and said it could have been a junior constable rostered on.

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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