Dorchester man charged in theft of burls from area trees

A Dorchester man has been charged with the mysterious theft of burls, the bumps on trees that are prized by woodworkers, from trees around the area, police said.

Michael Scanlan, 44, was charged with malicious destruction of property after he was spotted with another man sawing a chunk of red oak in the Fenway Victory Gardens.

Inside an apartment across the street from the park, police discovered a chainsaw and chunks of wood.

Scanlan will be arraigned Thursday morning. Another man was handcuffed and arrested, according to witnesses, but it was unclear whether he remains in police custody.

Norm Helie, a plant and soil specialist who works for Friends of the Fenway Victory Gardens, said he was in the park checking on trees and heard chainshaws. Then he came upon two men cutting a piece of wood on the ground


He asked where the men got the wood from, and they said “JP.’’ Helie thought it was suspicious and called police.

“I’m not a confrontational person, especially when somebody has a chainsaw,’’ Helie said.

When police arrived, one of the men had disappeared, but they found another hiding in the plants and took him into custody. Police also went inside an apartment building at 15 Park Drive and brought out a man in handcuffs.

It wasn’t clear which of the two men was Scanlan.

“I’m usually catching diseases and insects on trees, not people,’’ Helie said. “But it’s always nice to catch someone who thinks the trees belong to them.’’

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