$30,000 of maple trees chopped down in Sterling Heights vandalism

- The trees were beautiful. They were 30-foot maples, that turned a brilliant red in the fall. They lined the backyard of the Atkinsons' home on 19 Mile Road in Sterling Heights, but now they're gone.

All nine of them.

David Atkinson opened his back door when he was going to grill Wednesday night, and discovered every one of his big trees had been chopped down.

"It is kind of hard to imagine," Atkinson says. "So, for a while, I just wandered the yard looking around not believing it, and then came to realization this was a malicious act.

Michelle Atkinson says they're just trying to figure out who could possibly do something like this.

At first David and Michelle thought perhaps it was an accident, that landscapers had the wrong house. They spoke to tree and landscaping experts, who said you can tell the trees were cut on purpose and that it was not professionally done. David and Michelle never imagine someone would vandalize their yard.

"You wedge cut it and kind of make it fall the way you want it to fall instead of on people's houses or on a fence," explains landscaper Kyle Bergsieker. "It is kind of unbelievable."

Bergsieker from KLA Landscaping is just as stumped as police, not understanding why someone would want to do this.

Investigators questioned neighbors who say they remember hearing chainsaws buzzing Tuesday afternoon.

"They didn't look. They thought, it wouldn't be an accident or somebody doing it maliciously," Michelle says. "It was in broad daylight."

The Atkinsons contacted their insurance company, which estimates the damage around $30,000.

The couple plans to clean up and eventually replace the trees, but they were told it would take years to get back the beauty they once had in the backyard.

"I have no idea what's wrong with them," Michelle says. "How somebody like that could be so malicious."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sterling Heights Police Department.

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