A 16-year-old Gilbert boy is accused of using a machete-like knife to cut off the tip of an arm on an iconic saguaro cactus at the beginning of the Pinnacle Peak Park trail in Scottsdale. (Source: Photo courtesy of Leigh Harris)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (CBS5) -
A 16-year-old boy with a machete-like knife was arrested on suspicion of disfiguring an iconic saguaro cactus at the beginning of a popular Scottsdale trail Tuesday afternoon.
Staff at Pinnacle Peak Park at 26802 N. 102nd Way called police about 12:15 p.m. to report the "Comforting Arm" saguaro near the trailhead had been cut, according to a Scottsdale Police Department report.
It's estimated the cactus is about 150 years old.
Staff members told police a young man with a large knife or machete was seen hiking up the trail near the damaged cactus.
Hikers returning to the trailhead also reported that the flowering tip of a large arm of the cactus had been cut off, according to the report.
Officers said they found about 12 inches of the lowest arm hacked off.
Police waited at the trailhead and confronted the teen, who was from Gilbert and hiking with two adults.
A machete-like knife was found in his backpack and police said the teen later admitted to cutting the cactus.
He was arrested and booked into the Scottsdale City Jail before being released into the custody of his father.
Police estimated the damage to the cactus at $5,000 if the cactus survives and $10,000 if it doesn't.
Officers said he will be charged with felony criminal damage.
The saguaro cactus is considered a highly safeguarded native plant under the state's native plant law, which the suspect may be subject to as well.
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