PIEDMONT -- Thieves have stolen wreaths, garlands and tools from the Christmas tree lot hosted by the Boy Scouts, saddening the boys and their parents who organized the fundraiser that has been a city tradition for more than 45 years.
Workers discovered the items missing when they arrived to open the lot at Coaches Field shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday.
"The gate was locked and it seemed they took what they could easily carry," said Josephine Pegrum Hazelett, executive director of the Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
About 20 wreaths were stolen, including some made with Magnolia priced about $100, Hazelett said. Other stolen items include garlands, tools and a heater used by scouts and their parents when they volunteer at the lot at 890 Moraga Ave.
What makes the loss difficult is that the annual sale of Christmas trees and other holiday items provides about 20 percent of the Piedmont Council's income, helping pay for insurance and other costs, Hazelett said.
Boy Scouts began selling Christmas trees in Piedmont about 1966, when Troop 6 opened a small lot to raise money. The lot is now under the auspices of the council, which oversees the city's six Boy Scout troops and four Cub Scout packs, as well as Venturing and other programs.
Noble firs, Douglas firs and Silvertip trees are available at this year's lot, which opened Nov. 24. Along with people from Piedmont, customers regularly include Oakland residents from nearby Montclair and the neighborhoods around Piedmont Avenue.
The thieves who made off with the wreaths and other items likely climbed the fence to get inside the lot, Piedmont police Detective George Phifer said. So far, investigators have no suspects.
Hazelett said the stolen items are worth about $1,000.
"It hurts to lose revenue this way," she said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Piedmont police at 510-420-3013.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.