TREASURE ISLAND (FOX 13) - Last weekend, volunteers planted 10,000 sea oats plants along Treasure Island Beach. On Thursday, the stretch of beach where they were planted looked more like a graveyard.
“The first day we got here was Saturday and they were all freshly planted, and literally two days later they were yanked up. It's weird,” said beach-goer Lenny Woster.
It’s illegal in Florida to harm this kind of beach vegetation. Sea Oats play an important role in stabilizing the shoreline. Nearly half the crop was ruined - roughly $4,000 worth.
Many of them were planted in memory of 78 year old Arthur Dennis Velasco, a Treasure Island resident who was lost at sea last month. He fell overboard north of Tarpon Springs. He was the chairman of the city’s beach stewardship committee.
On Facebook, the chief of police posted this:
“The nature of the crime and extent of the damage leads me to believe this is not a random act of vandalism” he adds “will that person do the right thing and come forward? “
Despite hundreds of dead plants, police currently have zero leads. There is a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.