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Cops: Reward for info on illegal Menhaden Lane tree cutting

A $5,000 reward has been posted by Suffolk County Crime Stoppers, working with the Shelter Island Police Department (SIPD), in an effort to solve the illegal clearing of trees in parkland off Menhaden Lane in Hay Beach in early 2018.

More than an acre of trees and vegetation were damaged between January 7-8 last year, with the damage estimated at $66,000. Dozens of cedar, cherry, locust and other trees were chain-sawed, leaving stumps and debris strewn about the site, which is Suffolk County parkland. The case, which had been referred to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, remains unsolved.

Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg said the SIPD is announcing the reward now in hopes of “re-kindling any thoughts of who might have been responsible.”

When the incident was discovered, Tim Purtell, chairman of the town’s Green Options Advisory Committee said, “Those trees belong to all of us.”

The DA’s office has asked SIPD for assistance and they are continuing to work together on the case.

Anyone with knowledge of what occurred can anonymously report a tip to 800-220-TIPS; or text SCPD and your message to CRIMES (274637); tips can also be emailed to tipsubmit.com. Detective Thilberg said the only identifying information he would receive is a number. If the tip is responsible for solving the crime, he notifies Suffolk County Crimestoppers to release the reward.

Crimestoppers is a non-profit organization that raises funds to provide rewards, where a financial incentive may encourage witnesses to come forward, especially if their identity can be kept confidential.

Detective Thilberg said the reward is being announced now, with the return of many seasonal workers, especially in the landscaping business, in hopes that someone who might have heard something will come forward.

“We’re handing out the flyers at the ferry,” he said, to reach as many people as possible.

Suffolk County Crimestoppers has also announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the death of Reverend Canon Paul Wancura, another unsolved crime from 2018.