Lions Club Christmas tree lot targeted by thieves

GLENN DALE, Md. (WJLA) - A Prince George's County Lions Club is reeling after one of the generators they use to power the lights at their Christmas tree lot was stolen.

Members of the Lanham-area Lions Club who staff the Glenn Dale Boulevard tree lot say that someone broke through a fence and made off with one of two borrowed generators the organization was using.

The theft, which will end up costing them thousands of dollars, is a blow to their annual fundraiser.

"Stealing from the charity is like stealing from the poor, because all the money we collect here goes back to the community," Jim Cocchiaro, the coordinator of the tree lot, said. "There are honest ways to get that. You don't need to steal."

All of the cash the Lions Club collects from their tree lot goes back to services provided by the organization, such as providing hearing aids and glasses to those in need, along with sending kids to summer camp.

Cocchiaro believes that the thieves broke through the brackets that held the lot's fence together, grabbed the generator and got away through a nearby wooded area. It's the first time in 24 years that anything like this has happened, he says.

For now, authorities have told the Lions to turn their lights off at night to keep thieves away and to store their other generators off the property.

Regardless of the theft, members of the club say they'll persevere.

"I'm not going to let one or two incidents change 24 years of our lovefest between the Lions Club and this community," Lions Club member Joe Gaffigan said. "They're not going to stop us."

Lions Club members are seeking donations in the aftermath of the theft. Donations can be dropped off at the Christmas tree lot through Saturday.