On 5/20/2014 at about 12:15 pm, the Scottsdale Police Department was notified by the staff at Pinnacle Peak Park (26802 N. 102nd Way) that a saguaro cactus along the trail had been damaged by someone with a large knife.
Our officers responded to the park and spoke with the staff. They said that they had seen a young man with a large knife or machete hiking up the trail near the cactus that was damaged. Soon after, other hikers came to the park office and reported that a large arm of a saguaro cactus on the trail had been cut off.
Upon inspection of the damage, the officer noted that about 12” of the flowering tip of the arm had been cut with a sharp edged weapon.
Officers waited at the trailhead for the man with the edged weapon to come down. When he did, they contacted him. He was identified as a 16-year-old male from Gilbert, Ariz. He was with two other adults. He had a large machete-type knife in his back pack. He admitted to cutting the arm off the cactus. After establishing probable cause to believe that the juvenile cut off the cactus arm, he was arrested and booked into Scottsdale City Jail. He was released to his father a short time later. 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. (ARS 3-908) The juvenile may be subject to penalties under these laws as well. The saguaro cactus that was damaged is estimated to be about 150 years old. The damage is estimated at $5000, if the cactus survives. If it does not, the loss could be valued at well over $10,000.