SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - A Santa Rosa couple is still wondering what kind of people would trespass onto their burned out property and steal something they had made from the ashes of last October’s devastating fires to save for their new, still unbuilt, home.
It happened sometime Thursday night. The crown jewel of Jim and LuAnn Scalley's Coffey Park home was a 250-year-old oak tree, until the firestorm took it. The Scalley's say they loved and nurtured the old oak for almost 3 decades.
"We spent so much time back there. We had lights strung and in the summer we would sit out there for hours in the evening and we would entertain," said LuAnn Scally. “It was a huge part of our lives.”
Though the tree was dead, the Scalley's asked the arborist to put aside a large piece of the trunk's unburned interior. That turned out to be a large 300 hundred pound-plus oaken cube, the very heart of the tree. They were going to put a glass on top to make it a large table, so the memory of the tree could live on in their hearts once their home was rebuilt.
"We bought this lot because of that tree 28 years ago. We chose it because of that tree," said Mrs. Scally.
But as continued bad luck would have it, Thursday night in the still poorly lit neighborhood, someone trespassed onto their lot and stole the cube. "The physically couldn't have lifted them up itself. Somebody had to have some time of power equipment to scoop it up. We've had everything else taken away from us and this is just another gut punch," said Jim Scalley.
But here in "Sonoma Strong" Coffey Park, hope springs eternal that it will be returned. "It would be fabulous if it did. I would be overjoyed. As I've said before, we lost our cat for 21 days and it was returned to us so I never say never. I've learned that lesson. But, I would love it if someone returned it,” said LuAnn Scally.
If a prosecutor decides that this is still an active declared disaster, or emergency zone, then simple theft could actually be elevated to looting, which is a much more serious crime with much more serious penalties.