A new operation has been launched to combat Christmas tree theft.

christmas tree

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Operation hurdle has been launched to stop Christmas tree theft.

Gangs have been targeting farms where trees are being felled ready for export.

Operation Hurdle, a seasonal initiative by Garda, gets underway from today.

It was initially set up in 2012 following a spate of raids by Dublin-based gangs on isolated farms, resulting in thousands of trees being plundered annually from many of the county’s remote uplands plantations.

Back then an average of 2,000 trees were being stolen in Wicklow, at a loss of around €100,000 to growers.

Gardai said thefts were significantly down in the run-up to Christmas last year, due to the Covid-related restrictions that were in place.

However, they said all efforts would be made to repeat the success of last year’s operation, by focusing on crime prevention rather than detection.

Jimmy Fitzhackery of Glencullen Christmas Tree farm says those who work in the industry often have to stay up all night guarding their crop:

“They would be selling exports so they’re would be a lot of trees cut and left ready for collection the next day by the trucks and that.”

“Gangs are coming in and robbing the trees, this is why the guards are out so much.”