Hunt for heartless hamper, toy thieves
TEARS poured down the faces of staff at the Salvation Army in Maryborough after toys and gift hampers were stolen from the organisation just days before Christmas.
Volunteers believe the premises in Bazaar Street was targeted on Sunday.
"We believe the culprits must have come through an unlocked door during a church service," said Cherie Spalding.
"About six boxes of children's toys were taken. Some food items from the tables in our storeroom were also stolen," added Ms Spalding.
She said milk and a frozen apple pie that had been removed from the fridge were still cold to the touch when found discarded nearby.
"After calling the police I went for a short walk and found some of the items that had been dumped. The recovered food cannot be used because it was contaminated, but other items are still missing," explained Ms Spalding.
Brand new handbags that had been filled with toiletries, make-up and other products were also stolen.
"It is just so sad that the organisation was the victim of crime at this time of year," said Ms Spalding.
"I don't know why the culprits didn't just come and ask for gifts, food or the hampers. That is what we are here for, we help those who need it."
The Salvation Army's Deanne Stewart said the Maryborough community had been great since news of the robbery started to spread.
"The phone has been ringing off the hook," she said.
"All these empty baskets and hampers will be full again, such is the community in which we operate."
Adele Williams said the Salvation Army was not disheartened by the theft.
"We just have to keep going and our festive roll-out will carry on as normal," she said.
Distribution efforts will still take place today.
"What really makes this tough is that many of the people who come to collect toys, food and hampers have been coming to us throughout the year. We have seen some faces almost every week."
Maryborough police confirmed the robbery.
"Unknown offenders gained entry to a hall area and stole a donated quantity of food hampers and Christmas presents," read a statement issued by Senior Constable Melanie Ryan.
She is urging anyone with information to come forward and assist officers with their investigation.