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Tree service helps Sterling Heights couple after vandals cut down maple trees

Sterling Heights couple say 9 fully grown maple trees cut down

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A local tree service volunteered its time for a massive cleanup after a Sterling Heights couple found their nine fully grown maple trees cut down in their backyard.

Local 4 introduced you to David and Michelle Atkinson Thursday, just days after they were devastated to return home from work and find their maple trees cut down.

"Not one or two trees, but this yard looks like a jungle," David Atkinson said. "It's a mess. ... I opened the door and this is what I found."

The Atkinsons said they returned home Tuesday night and found all nine of the 30-foot trees cut down. One of the trees had fallen onto a privacy fence, and another had struck their house and patio, making it difficult to step into the backyard.

"Why?" David Atkinson said. "Why us? Why now? What did we do to deserve this?"

He said it's clear the trees were intentionally cut down, and it wasn't done professionally.

"Somebody had a plan," Michelle Atkinson said. "It wasn't professionally done, so it was somebody with some kind of an agenda. It's baffling."

"It hurts a lot," David said. "We purchased the home in July and one of the major selling features we loved were the beautiful, rare, mature trees."

Neighbors said they heard a chainsaw, but assumed it was a hired contractor. The person who cut the trees did not have a marked truck.

"When we discovered this, it was nighttime," David said. "So (in the) morning was the first time we saw it in daylight, and it just feels catastrophic."

The couple are still reeling from the incident, but a local tree service helped ease the pain by cleaning up the massive mess.

"Having them come out and do this is a reaffirmation there are still good people in the world," David said.

A five-man crew from Davey Tree Co. arrived at the home Saturday morning and took care of the $2,000 cleanup free of charge.

"I cried," Michelle said. "He said he just wanted to help. (He said), 'We're passionate about what we do. This is horrible. We saw your story.' They came out to help."

"I don't get to make that call every day," said Justin Burger, the district manager of Davey Tree Co. "(It) made me feel warm inside, all for their peace of mind."

The couple had just moved into the home near 19 Mile and Schoenherr roads a few months ago. They said nobody complained about the trees or the leaves.

Police are continuing to investigate, and they're hopeful someone will come forward with information.

The Atkinsons said they're grateful for the outpouring of support.

"There are still amazing people out there," David said. "We can't thank Davey Tree enough."

Davey Tree said it will return in the spring to plant new trees for the couple. In the meantime, the family is installing high-definition cameras to help rebuild their sense of security.

They believe someone came to their home and cut down the trees sometime between noon and 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sterling Heights police.

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