FORESTRY officials on both sides of the Border are on alert for gangs of tree 'hackers' who are stealing fir trees from nurseries to sell door-to-door as Christmas trees.
Last year, several thousand euro worth of damage was caused by the snatching of young trees from a number of roadside forest nurseries.
According to gardai, the stolen trees are offered for sale to unsuspecting householders at between €10 and €20, depending on their size.
A senior garda spokesman said Traveller gangs were the "main suspects" in relation to the theft of trees last year.
"People should be careful about from whom they purchase Christmas trees," he added.