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Homeowner frustrated after catching neighbor on video brazenly removing tree: 'On my property'

There wasn't a question as to whose property the trees were planted on.

There wasn't a question as to whose property the trees were planted on.

Photo Credit: iStock

A Virginia homeowner was baffled over the disappearance of a couple of trees from their yard, and when they checked their security cameras, they discovered a seemingly sinister act by one of their neighbors.

The Redditor recounted their story in the r/treelaw subreddit, explaining that they caught their neighbor on video "walking up to one of my redbud saplings, ripping it out of the ground and breaking it in half a couple of times as she walked back to her property." A second sapling had disappeared three weeks before the latest destruction led them to check their security footage.

The user explained that both trees were surrounded by mulch rings and that when they were taken, the mulch wasn't disturbed and the root balls weren't found.

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Also, there wasn't a question as to whose property the trees were planted on, as they measured the first tree that was taken to be 6 feet from the property line and the second one a whopping 22 feet and three inches from the neighbor's property.

"I know tree law in VA states that if the trees are on your side you can trim them as long as you don't do it to a point where you kill them, but these trees were very much on my property," the user stated. "The one that she killed recently, it was literally the tree, my driveway, a small stretch of yard (where the 1st tree was that went missing), my mailbox, and then the neighbor's yard."

The user asked for advice on how to address this situation lawfully

"If you've always had a good relationship with this neighbor, knock on their door and ask them what happened," one person suggested. Meanwhile, others encouraged the original poster to approach the conversation delicately and make sure their video footage was safe.Β 

Later, the OP added to the post and said they would approach the neighbor to give them a chance to confess to removing the trees. If the neighbor did not admit their transgression, the user would proceed with legal action.

In a subsequent post providing an update on the outcome, the OP recounted the interaction with their neighbor. They had a cordial conversation, with the homeowner gently probing to allow the neighbor to confess.

The homeowner mentioned that they would check their driveway camera and get the police involved if it showed someone removing the trees. The neighbor eventually admitted fault, saying: "Oh, That might've been me. I think I thought they were weeds." The neighbor then offered to cover the cost of replacing the trees. 

Unfortunately, the Reddit user is not alone in facing a situation like this, as many homeowners have faced similar issues with neighbors overstepping boundaries and damaging trees on their property. 

For example, one homeowner dealt with a neighbor cutting down buffer trees along their property line, which caused significant damage and robbed them of privacy. Actions like these also harm the environment by reducing the number of trees that provide essential ecological services like absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

If you find yourself facing similar circumstances, it's important to document everything and consider your next steps carefully. Many people in these situations have found it helpful to get a property survey to confirm boundaries and seek compensation for the damage. Some have even taken legal action to ensure their neighbors understand the seriousness of trespassing and property destruction.

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