Outrage as heartless thieves steal Hospice sit-out cash

December 23, 2013

The locally renowned annual John Dalzell Christmas sit-out, which raises much needed funds for the Southern Area Hospice, was dealt a devastating blow on Friday when callous thieves stole donations collected during of the 10 day sit-out.

It is understood a four man gang followed a volunteer who was working at a collection point for the charitable cause at Damolly Retail Park in Newry that day.  Travelling in a green southern registration Volvo 540, the men are thought to have tailed the volunteer to Main Street in Camlough where he was lifting further donations and, taking advantage of a short window of opportunity when the car was left unattended, they smashed their way into the volunteer’s car and made off with the charity’s cash.

The volunteer’s son took to Facebook on Saturday morning to vent his anger at the callous act and to appeal for information on the heinous robbery.  His post was immediately inundated with messages of support from outraged members of the community who urged local police to act immediately.

The robbery is the latest in a spate of thefts that have recently taken place in the Damolly Retail Park and nearby areas, and there is widespread speculation that the same unscrupulous gang may be responsible for Friday’s incident.

According to police, the theft of the Hospice cash followed a report of four men acting suspiciously in the area. They were driving a green coloured Volvo 540 car with a southern registration and were wearing baseball caps.

The vehicle was also reported to have been in the area of Patrick Street in Newry where a van was broken into whilst parked at a Newry Sports Centre sometime between 12.20pm and 1.50pm on Friday. A phone and a small sum of money were taken.

Police have appealed to anyone who noticed a green Volvo 540 car in the Newry and south Armagh areas on Friday last or who has any information to contact them in Newry on 0845 600 8000.

A spokesperson for Southern Area Hospice said, “We are shocked and appalled at the incident which took place on Friday night involving one of John Dalzell’s sit-out collection team. John’s annual Christmas sit-out in Newry is a vital part of Southern Area Hospice’s fundraising calendar and we are truly indebted to John and his team for the work they do.

“It is beyond comprehension that people would intentionally take money which was clearly being collected for charity. We wish the volunteer well as he recovers from his ordeal and we would appeal to anyone who has any information to please come forward to the PSNI or anonymously to Crimestoppers.”