Fargo man investigates own crime, tracks down stolen Christmas tree

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live)- Paul Vogel says, 3 college-aged students could be facing charges for trespassing, theft, and criminal mischief. But it's the investigative work done by this man that makes this such a unique and compelling story. It all happened on Vogel's family farmstead in north Fargo.

"It's one of the strangest things. I think about the incredible coincidence being at the exact right place at the right time," says Tree Theft Victim, Paul Vogel.

Paul Vogel took the loss of his prized spruce personally. It was chopped down and stolen last November. But what makes this tree so special, is Vogel and his Dad planted it together decades ago.

And while most of us would count it as a loss, Paul didn't stop there. He contacted police, but he knows they are busy. As the Christmas season came and went, the tree kept weighing on his mind. So he took matters into his own hands.

"In my investigation, I was driving around and so forth, I just happened to cross a pick-up truck parked behind a building in the NDSU area. I saw a tree on there, pieces of tree overloading the pick-up," says Vogel.

That's when Paul decided to follow the pick-up truck through town. He tells us, he watched the tree get dumped off and noticed there were marks left on it from a Christmas tree stand.

"I thought, I can't be this lucky but then I got out and examined the tree where it was dumped, I saw certain things and new right away I was pretty certain, that it was my tree," says Vogel.

That's when he called the Cass County Sheriff's Department and shared what he knew.

“They came right out and took pictures of where we found the tree and did some work to verify it was the same tree," says Vogel.

He even had some help from experts at NDSU that compared the rings on the stump to the pieces Paul found. Vogel says, they couldn’t completely confirm it was his tree but he thinks, it has to be.

Vogel says he has a hunch about who the 3 culprits are. Now, deputies with the Cass County Sheriff's Department are getting ready to pursue charges. But Vogel says, he didn't want anyone getting in trouble, he just wanted to know what happened to his tree.

"I thought I would feel better about it than I do. I don't like to see people get in trouble, but at the same time they aren't junior high kids, they are young adults," says Vogel.

You can bet since this incident, he has stepped up security on his farmstead. Vogel’s thanking the man who helped plant the tree for getting him to the right place at the right time.

Sgt. Tim Briggeman with the Cass County Sheriff's Department tells us, the investigation is still active and they'll be submitting their recommendations to the State's Attorney's Office soon. He says, no arrests have been made at this time.