Newry united in anger after callous thieves steal money destined for local Hospice
The local community has reacted in shock and anger after it was revealed that money from the John Dalzell Christmas Sit-Out was stolen by callous thieves just days before Christmas.
John Dalzell’s Annual Sit Out is widely seen as personifying all that is good in Newry and has raised an incredible £1m to date.
It is a challenge which sees John enduring the wet and windy weather of the Christmas season for 10 days in a bid to raise vital funds for The Hospice. Amazngly, this is the 22nd year he has braved the elements to help the local charity.
News of the heartless theft emerged after the son of one of the fundraising team took to Facebook to speak of his anger at the theft, which occured on Friday afternoon.
Darren Lockhart said in his Facebook status update, “My dad works as part of John Dalzell’s christmas sit-out which raises much needed funds for Southern Area Hospice.”
Darren revealed that the thieves followed his father. “This evening after lifting today’s donations four individuals in a blue Volvo with southern reg followed my dad from B&Q Newry to Camlough (where he was lifting futher donations) and when [he] left his car for 4 minutes these scumbags smashed his bootlid open and stole the charities funds.”
Appealing for help to catch those responsible for the crime, Darren added, “If anybody can help with info it would be greatly appreciated — feeling angry.”
Local SDLP Councillor Connaire McGreevy described the theft as ‘sickening’. He told Newry Times, “John Dalzell has been raising hundreds of thousands for the Southern Hospice for years now, demonstrating the spirit of Christmas.
“It sickens me and the Newry and Mourne community to think that people can stoop so low to commit theft against a charity and the volunteers. Anyone with any information, ever so small should contact the PSNI immediately to try and bring these criminals to justice.
And in another sad twist, McGreevy revealed that the theft took place just 24 hours before John Dalzell celebrated his birthday.
“This sickening crime took place on the eve of John’s birthday too, putting a damp mood over that occasion. I know John and his team won’t let this stop them in their quest to raise much needed funds for our community’s hospice.”
McGreevy’s SDLP colleague, Newry Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley echoed his sentiments. “This was a despicable crime especially so considering the time of year and the good cause to which the stolen donations were destined.
“These robbers have stooped to the lowest of low levels; their crime is an attack on the whole community, which is rightfully disgusted by their deeds.
Bradley added, “It is imperative that those responsible are apprehended as quickly as possible so that they may be dealt with by the courts. I would ask that anyone with any information contact the police without delay.”
A spokesman for Newry PSNI spoke to Newry Times and said the theft took place 2.50pm on Friday and that the rear window of the volunteer’s parked car had been smashed and a sum of money taken.
“This incident followed a report of four men acting suspiciously in the area,” the spokesman explained. “They were driving in a green coloured Volvo 540 car with a southern registration and were wearing baseball caps.”
Police revealed that the local charity wasn’t the only victim of the four thieves. “A green volvo 540 car was also reported to have been in the area of Patrick Street in Newry where a van was broken into whilst parked at a sports centre sometime between 12.20pm and 1.50pm.
The local police spokesman added, “A phone and a small sum of money were taken. Police would ask anyone who noticed a green Volvo 540 car in the Newry and South Armagh areas on Friday 20th December or who has any information to contact them in Newry on 0845 600 8000.
“Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
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