Joseph Rizza was arrested Wednesday.Metro file

Police have arrested the Brighton Tree Ninja.

Over the past several years, someone has chopped down or damaged young trees that were planted in Brighton.

On Wednesday, Boston Police detectives arrested a man they believe responsible for such damage. Authorities have dubbed him the “Brighton Tree Ninja.”

Joseph Rizza, 65, of Brighton was arrested after he was observed damaging a tree with a hammer near 326 Washington St.


Detectives had initiated a surveillance investigation in that area in an attempt to catch the person who has been killing trees in Brighton and had so far eluded capture.

Over the last several weeks, police gathered video evidence. On Wednesday, they set up surveillance near the Brighton Elks Club whereupon they saw Rizza enter the parking lot of the club and start to cut down a tree.

When approached, Rizza tried to conceal the hammer he was using to damage the tree.

Rizza now faces five counts of willful and malicious destruction of property and unlawfully carrying a dangerous weapon. He was arraigned in Brighton Wednesday. The investigation, police said, remains active.

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