A former San Francisco 49ers player turned cherry farmer is bent on finding those responsible for vandalizing hundreds of cherry trees at his Brentwood farm, bumping up the reward money to $15,000.
Jeremy Newberry was set to start his first cherry harvest season, but instead he arrived last week to find thousands of his newly planted cherry trees ripped from the ground.
"Literally this whole area was ransacked," Newberry said. "I was sick to my stomach."
Newberry discovered Wednesday someone vandalized his orchard, ripping out 2,000 newly-planted cherry trees.
"They yanked them out of the ground at the root and snapped them in half so you can't replant them," he said.
Matt Foley, of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office said somebody definitely crossed the line.
Investigators say the remote area makes finding witnesses or clues a challenge. In what they described as a long shot, they said they’ll try to collect DNA samples from the orchard.
"We’re still going to try to get some some of those trees and see if we can take some swabs and just pull out the stops," Foley said.
Neighboring cherry farmers say they too want answers. Peter Wolfe of Wolfe Ranch Cherries said while competition is fierce, he can’t imagine a cherry farmer being behind it.
"It’s not something a cherry farmer would do," he said.
The Newberrys now have cameras at the entrances of their orchard. They want the cherry vandals to know they’re not going to be easy targets anymore.
Newberry, meanwhile, plans to sleep in a trailer on the property to keep watch over his new field of dreams.
"It won't happen again," he said. "I'll be out here."