Portage police said they found Phillip Menefee balancing the $40 fir tree, which still bore a price tag, on his bicycle near a Mathisen Tree Farms lot after the business closed at 1 p.m. Friday, the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune reported Monday.
Investigators said Menefee first claimed to have purchased the tree from the lot, but changed his story after officers told him the lot was closed. The suspect then allegedly told police he bought the tree at the Sunset Lounge bar, officers said.
Police verified that Menefee had been drinking at the bar and the business was not selling any Christmas trees.
Menefee, who was riding a bicycle with a homemade motor and no lights, was arrested and charged with theft and public intoxication. The tree was returned to the lot.