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Sticky-fingered thieves steal sap out of maple trees in Maine, damaging valuable trees

  • This March 12, 2013 photo released by the Maine Forest Rangers shows an illegally tapped maple tree in northern Maine. Thieves are illegally tapping trees across Maine and stealing the sap that runs each spring that's used to make sweet maple syrup. Forest rangers say the illegal tappers are damaging valuable maple trees before they are harvested for lumber. (AP Photo/Maine Forest Rangers)

    This March 12, 2013 photo released by the Maine Forest Rangers shows an illegally tapped maple tree in northern Maine. Thieves are illegally tapping trees across Maine and stealing the sap that runs each spring that's used to make sweet maple syrup. Forest rangers say the illegal tappers are damaging valuable maple trees before they are harvested for lumber. (AP Photo/Maine Forest Rangers)  (The Associated Press)

  • This March 12, 2013 handout photo provided by the Maine Forest Rangers shows a board milled from a maple tree that had been illegally tapped in northern Maine. Thieves are illegally tapping trees across Maine and stealing the sap that runs each spring that's used to make sweet maple syrup. Forest rangers say the illegal tappers are damaging valuable maple trees before they are harvested for lumber. (AP Photo/Maine Forest Rangers)

    This March 12, 2013 handout photo provided by the Maine Forest Rangers shows a board milled from a maple tree that had been illegally tapped in northern Maine. Thieves are illegally tapping trees across Maine and stealing the sap that runs each spring that's used to make sweet maple syrup. Forest rangers say the illegal tappers are damaging valuable maple trees before they are harvested for lumber. (AP Photo/Maine Forest Rangers)  (The Associated Press)

Sticky-fingered thieves are stealing sap right out of Maine's maple trees.

Maine Forest Ranger Thomas Liba says as far as he can tell, the culprits are taking the sap home and boiling it down to make syrup for personal use. But they're damaging valuable maple trees and dissing landowners who haven't given them permission to be on their property.

Liba says he's seen more sap theft reports in recent years. Illegal taps were even found in a city-owned cemetery in Calais recently.

The best maple trees are high value. They can be used for furniture or cabinet veneers or taken to a sawmill. But when the trees are damaged, they're only suitable for less profitable uses.