BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Saturday, 9 December, 2000, 01:42 GMT
Ex-squaddies to rumble tree rustlers
Camouflaged guard
Guards promise to foil the Christmas tree thieves
Ex-soldiers are using their army training to combat thefts of supermarket Christmas trees.

Three camouflaged guards are among a team being employed by Tesco to guard thousands of trees from rustlers.

They are being deployed on nightly patrols in the run-up to Christmas to foil the thieves at an undisclosed 600-acre site.


"Anyone who is thinking of rustling trees should beware. They will be rumbled."

Tesco spokesman
Crops of the trees, grown in isolated countryside, are so valuable that they are known in criminal circles as "green gold", and an articulated lorry-load can fetch up to 20,000.

The Tesco guards' arsenal comprises mobile phones to send silent text messages and special night vision goggles.

A spokesman for the supermarket told BBC News Online: "Anyone who is thinking of rustling trees should beware. They will be rumbled."

The guards have already put their army training to the test by building a hide of foliage and tree branches from which they can survey the estate.

'Right skills vital'

The spokesman said the army training was appropriate for patrolling its large tree site.

"Those who steal trees are highly organised. It's very important to get people with the right skills to defend our Christmas trees against thieves. Staying hidden is a very important part of that role," he said.

The squad members will immediately alert the police rather than tackle the intruders.

The spokesman added: "Christmas is a really important time for customers and trees are an essential part of the festivities. We are anxious that no-one is disappointed by rustlers".

One of the guards being deployed is Barry, a 26-year-old who said he could not reveal his surname for security reasons.

He described the Tesco job as like being back in the army.

He said: "After a night's work, we end up pretty cold and wet. We've had high winds the last few nights and everyone has got muddy and dirty."

He limited himself to saying that he and his colleagues had served in the "infantry".

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories