ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- It's a case of a stealth tree trimmer striking in the dark of night.
For the second time in the New Town community of St. Charles, someone is cutting branches off trees. And while it's soliciting snickers from some, others are worried what's to come if nobody's caught.
Jeremy Vaughn keeps busy renovating his new house, but he can't help but hear about the unwanted redo taking placed in his community. Trimming, cutting, dumping; trees targeted, all seemingly in the dark of night. The latest strike was late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
New Town even has a name for the perpetrator.
"The Midnight Pruner," said Vaughn.
At first, the situation dripped with intrigue. Who's doing it and why? But now Vaughn says it's like a stale joke that's no longer funny.
"People were saying, 'Yeah, free tree pruning,' but it's been going on quite a bit and I guess some of the trees have started to die and it's been going on too long now I think," he said.
It's happened here before, an old problem resurfacing in New Town.
NewsChannel 5 first reported this tree trouble in August. It seemed to stop for a while but resurfaced a few weeks ago.
"The vandalism is really what's disgusting to me," said New Town resident Michael Gamble.
New Town is a community where people keep their property tidy. It's built around walking and biking, but one woman says she's afraid now to venture out at night with her dog because of what she considers a "creepy" occurrence.
In the absence of answers, some are speculating about a possible motive.
"From somebody that might be in exercise and get frustrated that a branch is hanging too low over the sidewalks and they have to divert around that when they're running," said Gamble. "Or maybe they didn't keep to the standards of the community and were asked to trim their own trees.
Because they're not trimmed properly, property owners fear disease and insects will kill the trees. On one street alone, police counted as many as 50 trees pruned.