Treechery: Crook steals arbor sweaters

Human nature: Artist dresses Park Slope trees in sweaters
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Don’t call him a cold criminal.

A thief made off with four “tree sweaters” knit by a Park Slope artist who had fashioned the outfits for arbors to “make the dullest, coldest months feel warmer.”

The sweater-snatching rascal swiped the handmade garments from a strip of leafless trees on 16th Street, leaving them embarrassingly naked and prompting an all-out yarnhunt.

“We have searched the immediate neighborhood in case they were dumped somewhere,” said Laurie Russell, who spent months conceiving and crafting the street art. “We have put up signs.”

The crook removed the colorful, cylindrical garments — which resemble sweaters for giant wiener dogs — around 3 pm on Sunday between Sixth and Seventh avenues, Russell said.

Russell, a 58-year-old painter, first hung the grandma-goes-graffiti art four years ago, adding new pieces in orange, blue and pink each winter since. She hoped it would urge passers-by to “rethink their environment.”

“It’s a gesture of compassion for the tree even though I know it doesn’t actually do anything,” she told The Brooklyn Paper in January.

A police spokesman for the 78th precinct said he had no information about the disappearing arbor outfits and two city agencies — the Parks Department and the Department of Sanitation — said the city isn’t responsible for stripping down the newly nude trees.

Russell is now turning to neighbors for help.

“If you hear of anything,” she said. “Please let me know.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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