Thieves have stolen eight trees which lined a busy Lothians street.
The box trees had been planted just three weeks before as part of efforts to improve the look of John Street in Penicuik.
It is believed the culprits uprooted the trees – which cost around £300 – from their planters before loading them on to a vehicle.
The foot-high conical trees were planted as part of a £12,000 revamp of the street paid for out of Penicuik councillor Margaret Wilson’s environmental improvement budget.
And Mrs Wilson couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the plants had been stolen.
“The part of the street running from the Tower chip shop to the Quadrant looked totally rundown so I decided to pay for a revamp.
“We put down the eight planters and in the centre of each were these box trees. Everybody in the town was remarking on how good they looked. They are not cheap – they are pretty expensive.
“But then I got an email from Midlothian Council to tell me they had all been stolen, every single one.”
The plants were taken sometime between 4pm on Monday and 10am on Tuesday. Mrs Wilson said: “The thieves must have had a vehicle with them to take them away – you don’t just uproot the trees and then walk away with them. It hasn’t been children that were responsible for this.
“I’m just totally shocked that somebody would steal these trees. John Street is a busy place and somebody, somewhere, will know where they went. It wouldn’t have been a five-minute job.
“They trees were well planted and the culprits wouldn’t have just been able to pull them out.
“Someone has seen them and thought, ‘they’re worth a few bob’, and come back with a van. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up on sale at a market for £40 a time.
“It’s such a shame. They have stolen from ordinary people – that’s taxpayers’ money.”
Community police inspector Neil Simpson said: “We are looking into the theft of these recently planted trees and we would appeal to anybody who has information relating to who committed this crime to get in touch.
“It’s really disappointing that attempts to improve the environment for the community in Penicuik have been damaged in this way.”
Anyone who may have seen some people acting suspiciously is asked to contact police on 0131-311 3131, or Crimestoppers in confidence and complete anonymity on 0800-555 111.