We bet you've done it, we all have.    Driving around town, or walking during the Christmas season, and you see the "perfect" tree.  You just know that tree would look perfect in your home, with presents underneath.  Who's going to notice if you cut it down? There's plenty of others nearby, or it's not going to be missed.

Well, besides the fact that illegally cutting a tree will get you in trouble with either city or county officials, or with a private landowner,  it could end up making your holidays rather smelly.

For years, people have tried to go cheap during the holidays by cutting down their own Christmas tree, often regardless of where they find it.    Numerous stories pop up in December about folks chopping the trees from parks,  private lands - even people's yards!

But people have gotten smart about it, and have found numerous ways to make sure you won't do it again.    Utilizing skunk oil,  many cities across America spray their trees with the stuff,  making them a "time bomb" if stolen.

Once the oil dries on the tree,  you can't smell it.  Even rain or snow won't make it stinky.  When the tree is sprayed, much of the oil is absorbed into the needles and branches.  Over time,  it's eventually absorbed by the tree and discarded as waste.  We also know when you cut down a pine tree, unless you put it in water soon,  it turns brown, the needles fall off, and within a few days you have a dead tree.

Well, when a 'skunk' tree is cut, then placed in water, such as you would do with a tree stand,  it triggers a 'shock' reaction.   The needles and branches will expel the skunk oil, giving off one of the most powerful odors you've ever been around.   Within a few hours to day, your home will smell like a skunk died in your air ducts!

The University of Minnesota cured it's problem of pine tree theft during the holidays in 2013 by spraying all of it's trees around campus.  Officials say the number of thefts has gone from 10-12 trees annually, to one or two!    Campus maintenance officials say it can cost anywhere from $2-3,000 to replace a large, mature tree when you consider the cost itself, and the logistics and time it takes to prep the site, dig the hole, plant, water, fertilize etc.

Even if you just cut the top few feet off a large, tall tree,  the smelly effect is still the same.  It's going to stink you out of house and home.

So before you consider stealing that perfect tree from secluded corner of a park, or in that vacant lot nobody pays attention to, consider this:  The property owner is probably one step ahead and you, and that tree is likely a smell time bomb just waiting to "explode" inside your home.

It's not just cities and  businesses who spray their trees, many private citizens who own property that has pine trees do the spraying as well.

By the way, because it's an oil and permeates clothing, carpet and other fabrics, skunk oil smell takes days if not weeks to get rid of.    Is it worth the risk?