ROME, N.Y. - New York State Police are on the lookout for three colorful Christmas trees they say were stolen from Henderberg's Christmas Tree Farm in Rome.
While their value is only $240 dollars, workers at Henderberg's are more concerned with what the trees represent: at the time of their theft, the trees had been chosen and earmarked by local families who wanted to buy them.
Henderberg's has a policy of letting families select trees ahead of their pickup date. They do not accept payment for the trees until they are cut down.
With the popularity of their new colorful trees, Henderberg's has been receiving requests from as far as Chicago. State police say two blue trees were stolen Monday along with one turquoise tree.
"From eyewitnesses that saw the trees, they were seen at 8:00 a.m. and caught sitting on the side of the road," Jay Henderberg, the farm's owner said. "They were picked up between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. during broad daylight, so they're not worried about getting seen during broad daylight."
Before it was stolen, the turquoise tree was selected to be the centerpiece for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
"The one family, it was their wedding and had something to do with the reception and it was their wedding colors," Henderberg said.
One of the blue trees was chosen as a beacon of hope, the first to stand in a family's home after a tragedy.
"It was for a lady that lost her son and she hasn't celebrated Christmas in a while," Sherri Card, a helper at Henderberg's said. "She felt that the tree that she picked out was honoring him and that her and her family could use the tree to try and celebrate again."
Henderberg is working to replace the trees, but with fewer and fewer days above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, opportunities for the new colorant to fully set are dwindling.
"It's my goal to make sure these people have the tree that they thought they were going to have," Henderberg said.
In the hopes of avoiding other thefts, customers have been called to pick up their colorful trees ahead of schedule.
What initially garnered social media attention and boosted the popularity of their farm has now prompted Henderberg's employees to install more cameras for security.
"To protect the trees that are still here currently," Henderberg said. "To me, it's no different than if someone came in my home while my door was locked and I was sleeping."
For the farm that hasn't had a theft in more than 30 years of business, employees have a message for the person responsible.
"Taking something that they didn't know was for other people for special occasions, is heartbreaking to me," Card said. "Why didn't you just come to us if you wanted one that bad? We would have figured it out."
If you have any information on the trees, call New York State Police at (315)366-6000.