OGDEN — A tree-removal service has shut down its after-hours firewood sales, which were made on the honor system until one man ruined it for everybody else.
Little C Tree Service & Snow Removal has discontinued its self-service operation after someone took up to $300 worth of firewood and paid only a few dollars.
"It's one of those things that, in the back of your mind, really bothers you," owner Troy Carlin told the Standard-Examiner.
The company has allowed customers to purchase wood after hours by listing the prices and having a nearby white pay box. The system worked well the last two years and has been convenient for those who leave before dawn to go camping.
But for the fifth time in a month, a man in a white late-model Ford extended-cab truck has gone to the store after closing time, loaded his truck with wood and left only a $1 bill. The regular price is $20 for a wheelbarrow load.
"He's just putting that dollar in there to look like he's actually paying what he's supposed to for his wood," said Tracy Rowser, office manager.
In response, Carlin installed surveillance cameras around the store, which recorded the firewood thief Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the image was too dark to be identified. If caught, the man could be charged with theft, said Police Lt. Scott Sangberg.
"If they have the prices listed and all he left was a dollar, it would be a theft of the property," he said.
The company posted a sign near the pay box earlier this week telling the man that they were onto him.
"It just makes it bad for the rest of the people that we trust — customers that we've had forever," Rowser said. "We have lots of repeat, honest customers."
The store has been in the area of Wall Avenue and 20th Street for nearly 15 years. The company is now putting a chain-link fence around its property that will be padlocked once the sun goes down.
"I'm still going to leave it open during the day and on weekends," Carlin said. It's unfortunate one person had to ruin it, because the old system was so convenient, Rowser said.