I think people are unthinking and not even worried what it might do to others or perhaps they knew what the tree ment and only wanted to hurt those involved.
I can totally understand that it's like having your home locked up tight and coming home to find they have ransacked from top to bottom.
I'm sorry. That's ridiculous.
Just tell him the truth. Or buy a new one and do the switch, but I always that was more mean than just the truth