MEAN-SPIRITED thieves stole a charity box from a Christmas lights display in Leap, after an 18-year old student had invested €2,000 of his own money creating the attraction.
Gareth Whooley – who lives at Droum in Leap, in a house that is located across the road from the Catholic Church – said the €2,000 came from the money he had earned working weekends at The Harbour Bar in Leap.
‘I had always been very interested in decorating my family’s house in Christmas lights,’ said Gareth, ‘but this was my first year doing the lights in aid of two local charities, Cancer Connect and the West Cork Animal Welfare Group.’
Gareth, who selected and paid for all the lights himself, said he and his family were walking to mass on Christmas Eve when they noticed that the donation box, and the speaker that they had been using to play Christmas songs, had been stolen.
Gareth said: ‘We got a huge shock that someone had actually stolen the box. It’s just such a mean offence, especially on Christmas Eve.’
When they returned from mass, Gareth said: ‘We happened to meet a local, off-duty guard who notified his colleagues, and just before 10pm on Christmas Eve, a garda from Clonakilty Garda Station arrived at our house and we gave a statement.’
The following morning, on Christmas Day, both Gareth and his father, John, searched the roads and ditches around the area but they didn’t find anything.
The gardaí are continuing with their investigation into the theft and anyone who saw anything suspicious is asked to contact their local garda station.
In the meantime, Gareth said it is business as usual. The Christmas lighting display will stay up until January 6th and anyone who would like to make a donation is asked to put it through the letterbox at the Whooley family home.
People have voiced their support for the Whooley family on Facebook. One friend praised them, saying: ‘Well done with all the hard work you’ve put in for such fantastic causes.’
The same person warned the thief, or thieves: ‘Whoever did something as disgusting as that will not benefit from it at all.’
Another person described the robbery as ‘a f**king disgrace!’ and expressed the hope that the culprits would be caught soon.