MILWAUKIE -- The tree lot outside the Harvest Church of God in Milwaukie attracts loyal customers every year. However, now it's attracting thieves in the middle of the night.

We showed up in the morning and between 30 and 50 trees were gone, said Hewell Connell, a church member.

The congregation has been selling trees for nine years in its quiet neighborhood and this is the first time any trees have been stolen.

The tree farm owner who stocks the church lot is not surprised by the crime.

It's prevalent. Tree lots get hit all the time, said Cragin Low who owns Rain Tree Farm in Estacada.

It's not just tree lots that are targets. Low's own tree farm was targeted by conifer thieves this year.

It happens every single year, said Low. Nearly every farm, every year has some sort of theft.

This annual church tree sale started as a fundraiser for a youth group. Tough economic times, however, have made this event extremely important to the church.

As of late, we've used money from the sale to pay light bills and keep the church up and running, said pastor Jack Watkins.

If you have information about what might have happened to the stolen trees, you're asked to call Milwaukie Police.

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