SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Scottsdale police arrested a Gilbert teen accused of cutting off a large arm of an iconic saguaro cactus in Pinnacle Peak Park.
The staff called police Tuesday afternoon to report that a saguaro on Pinnacle Peak Trail had been damaged by someone with a large knife. The saguaro is estimated to be 150 years old.
Police said about 12 inches of the flowering tip of an arm had been cut off the cactus.
Staff members told the responding officers that they had seen a young man with a large knife or machete on the trail near the saguaro. They said hikers had reported the damaged cactus to the park office.
Officers waited at the trailhead and contacted the 16-year-old, who was with two adults. Police said the teen had a large machete-type knife in his backpack and admitted to cutting the arm off the cactus.
The teen was arrested and booked into Scottsdale City Jail. He was released into the custody of his father a short time later. He could be charged with felony criminal damage and may be subject to penalties under state laws.
The saguaro is considered a highly safeguarded native plant under Arizona's native plant law.
Police said the damage is estimated at $5,000 if the cactus survives. If it does not, the loss could be valued at more than $10,000.