A box tree believed to be more than 100-years-old which was stolen from outside a house just days before Christmas has been found, returned and replanted.
An appeal for information was launched after the tree, which has a 4ft circumference, was taken sometime between 11pm on Tuesday, December 22, and 10am the following day.
It is one of two trees which are decorated as Christmas puddings every year for people to enjoy during the festivities.
Owner Martin McEvoy said: “Two days before Christmas the two box hedges were dressed as Christmas puddings, which we do every year.
“They were covered with white linen with red baubles on top, the kids love it.
“But the day before Christmas Eve, they were vandalised.
“The linen was torn off and the baubles ripped off so I went on to our local website, Gretton News and Views, to say what had happened.
“The following night, the tree had been ripped out of the ground and taken.”
Despite the thieves’ efforts to ruin Christmas, the stolen tree was found abandoned on Tuesday (January 5) on the road to Harringworth alongside equipment which may have been used to rip it out of the ground.
Mr McEvoy said: “I originally thought someone had taken it to sell or to plant it, but I think it was a vindictive act.
“It was put back in yesterday by a professional gardener who said it should recover.
“We have had more than 200 messages on our local Facebook page with people who are very happy that it has been put back.
“It was needless and vindictive, but it’s back now.
“The ground is very wet and it hasn’t been frosty so it should be ok.
“But it’s not just a tree that went, it was vandalised and it is something that children love in the village.”
Not only do Martin and Jo Lister decorate the trees at Christmas, they also deck them out for Halloween complete with scary sound effects and they may branch out by decorating the trees this Easter too.
Helen Bach, a columnist for the Northants Telegraph, was one of many people who was happy to see the return of the missing tree.
She said: “Despite more appeals the culprits have yet to be found, but following an article on the Northants Telegraph website - and even a brief mention in The Sun - the bush was found abandoned and has now been returned to its rightful home.”
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said the investigation is ongoing.
Tyre tracks were left in the garden when the tree was taken so it is believed a 4X4 vehicle may have been used by the thieves.
Anyone who knows anything about the theft can call Northamptonshire Police on 101.