Burglars steal donated food and gifts from Vinnies

The Parish Priest of the Palmerston North Cathedral, Fr Joe Grayland, is thanking the local people and businesses for replacing many of the donated Christmas goods and much of the food, stolen over the weekend.

“Their generosity has been outstanding, and it restores my faith in human nature”, he says.

“They will literally help make Christmas for many who were likely to miss out”.

His comments come after burglars broke into the Cathedral Saturday night stealing thousands of dollars of donated food and gifts collected by its local St Vincent De Paul (Vinnies) conference.

Grayland told CathNews that the Police are hoping to find the thief as they have timed security camera footage of the burglar entering and of his vehicle.

“I’m sure Vinnies would have tried to help him had he asked”, Grayland said.

The stolen goods had been earmarked by Vinnies for families in need over the Christmas season.

Vinnies Palmerston North president Mike Keenan (pictured), discovered the burglary on Sunday.

He says thieves got away with 10 Christmas-wrapped and decorated parcels donated from a food drive at St James’ Catholic School, plus cans, jam, coffee sachets, biscuits, chocolate bars, 500g packets of sugar, bread and 20 kilograms of meat.

He says the food would have been given to around 20 families in time for Christmas.

The church usually delivers 800 parcels a year, helping 3000 people.

“I was pretty upset all day yesterday. I can’t understand why people would do that sort of thing,” he says.

The burglars trashed the room as well as stealing the donated food and gifts.

“It was a huge mess,” he says.

“Food had been tipped out everywhere and dropped as the burglars took what they wanted.

“There were two panels removed from one of the windows, which must have been how they got in.”

Exactly how much food was taken is difficult to estimate, because the food bank doesn’t keep detailed ledgers.

“We’re grateful for the donations from the Manawatu area and wish everyone a great Christmas,” Keenan said.

People wanting to help replace the Christmas gifts and hampers are welcome to donate food to Vinnies Shop on Rangitikei Street.

Police area prevention manager Senior Sergeant Darren Paki says police are asking for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning to come forward.

Anyone with information should get in touch by phoning 105 and quoting file number 201129/3944.

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