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'Totally crushed': Volunteers devastated after thieves steal village's Christmas lights

By Charlotte Bentley | Crime | Published:

Vandals have stolen Christmas for one village as they stole decorations and lights, leaving community volunteers heartbroken just one day after their switch-on.

The Sheriffhales Christmas Lights display in their prime

Sheriffhales Village Green Christmas display had only been up for one night when thieves came in the dead of night and stole seven sparkly reindeer from the village green and grabbed all the lights they could before taking off, leaving organiser of 11 years, Peter Young, devastated.

About 80 per cent of the community-run display in the village near Shifnal has been stolen, organisers say - despite the figures and lights being chained up and locked after a similar incident in 2013. They also said they have been unable to contact their community police team to report the crime.

Pamela Bonsall, one of the organisers this year, said Peter, 79, was totally crushed and that he did it for the children and the joy it brings. She said he was absolutely heartbroken to see his hard work come to nothing this year.

"It is community run, not a municipal event. It is partly funded by the parish council but mainly by the community, volunteers and by Peter Young," she said.

"Peter had spent money over the years and bought reindeer figurines and Santa lights and things. It is a community event every year when the lights get switched on and people sing carols around the Christmas tree.

"On Friday, November 30, the lights were put up by volunteers in the rain and were switched on. They were only on for one night when they were stolen on Saturday in the early hours, between 1.15am and 2am.

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"We do have CCTV in the area and they have been caught on it. One of the other volunteers tried to ring the number to report rural crime and they did not answer the phone."

They are now appealing for donations of any spare Christmas lights and have also set up a JustGiving page to try to raise £650 to get some new lights, including an anti-theft alarm and motion sensor lights.

Pamela said: "Poor Peter is totally crushed. It has hit him hard, knocked the stuffing out of him really. The lights were on the green in the main part of the village. It is something everybody has enjoyed for years.

"We had a herd of seven reindeer figurines with lights around them and things that Peter had purchased over the years, and they took the whole lot. They ripped the electricity box open to get the plugs out."

The link to their JustGiving page is justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sheriffhales-christmas-lights

Anyone with information can call police on 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at charlotte.bentley@shropshirestar.co.uk.

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