Scrooged! Thief pilfers $281 tree |

Scrooged! Thief pilfers $281 tree

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Michael Lee probably has the most expensive Christmas tree in Aspen – or at least he did until Monday night.The saga of the $281 Christmas tree began Thursday when he drove to the U.S. Forest Service office in Carbondale to acquire a $10 permit to cut a tree on public lands. A friendly federal worker cheerfully suggested he check out a site 11 miles up Frying Pan Road.Michael and his wife, Susie, found the site, snagged a good tree and got hopelessly stuck trying to get out of that area. Two anglers attempted to pull them out to no avail, so Susie hitched a ride to Basalt and hired a tow truck at a cost of $271. (They learned they weren’t the first or last people to get stuck there.)”I’m telling everybody this is my $281 Christmas tree,” Lee said.The story gets better – or worse, depending on perspective.The Lees planted their 6-foot tree in a stand and placed it in their Hunter Creek condominium. A day or so later a friend asked them to switch trees. The friend ended up with a tree too large for his residence; the Lees could accommodate the taller tree.The exchange happened between football games Sunday. The Lees left their new tree outside their condo in a barrel of water big enough to hold a keg.The flu hit Michael on Monday, so he wasn’t able to wrestle the tree inside. When the Lees emerged from their home Tuesday morning, they found that some Scrooge had made off with their prize catch.Susie put up fliers around their neighborhood trying to recover the stolen tree. They tried the guilt trip approach by informing the thief or thieves that they broke their 3-year-old son Lucas’ heart.But Michael isn’t betting on recovering his $281 tree.”I’m going to go to City Market,” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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