Authorities in Malibu, Calif., said they were investigating the disappearance of more than $6,400 worth of palm trees volunteers planted at a high school.

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it was investigating the Jan. 31 disappearance of about 80 trees planted by parents at Malibu High School, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The planting of the trees during Thanksgiving weekend sparked controversy among local property owners who complained the trees obscured views and created potential fire danger.

Principal Mark Kelly said in a statement that "information indicates that several individuals in two white trucks came to campus, removed the trees and filled the holes."

A spokesman for the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's station said a criminal investigation was being conducted but detectives were also looking into whether the tree removal resulted from "an agreement between people" that would be the subject of a civil case rather than a criminal inquiry.