An Aberdeenshire community has condemned thieves who stole a light up Santa from a charity display in the middle of the night.
Belhelvie residents said the theft of their outdoor decoration was “deplorable” and “nothing short of outrageous”.
The neon-bright Santa, which stands around 6ft tall and about 4ft wide, was set up two weeks ago, alongside a colourful sleigh with reindeers.
It was donated by local residents Lesley and Raymond Moffat, who are well-known for looking after the area and making sure there is something for people to enjoy during the holidays.
The Christmas attraction immediately proved popular with the local community – especially with the children – as changing lights made it appear as if Santa is waving.
It was placed at the entrance of Belhelvie – at the T-junction on the B977 Aberdeen to Balmedie road – so all visitors could see Santa spreading festive cheer with his gentle wave.
Community ‘appalled’ after ‘deplorable’ theft of Santa
But last week, residents were dismayed to discover that the Santa decoration had been stolen overnight – although the sleigh had been left in place.
Belhelvie Community Council chairman David Wallace said it was “discouraging and demoralising” for the people who put so much effort into the display.
“The theft of the Santa is nothing short of outrageous,” he said.
“That’s a brand new display that was set up by the good people of Belhelvie. It’s just unacceptable for it to be stolen.
“It was done through a local charitable group in Belhelvie and we applauded what they’ve done, because it was such a nice display – especially for the children.
“It’s very discouraging and demoralising for the people who went to all that effort, raised the funds for it and did such a great job to get it in there.
“It’s all a bit sad really and just deplorable. Everyone in the community is at a lost to understand what possesses people to do this.”
‘We are fighting a losing battle’
The culprits grabbed Santa some time between 10pm on Sunday, December 5, and 7am on Monday, December 6.
Mr Wallace added that another set of festive decorations were vandalised five days later.
A Christmas tree, which was put up at the Balmedie roundabout by “community-spirited” locals, was also destroyed at the weekend – with vandals purposely breaking all of the ornaments and solar lights.
Belhelvie Community Council has now shared the “disappointing” events on their web page and social media with an appeal for people to report these crimes to police.
Mr Wallace added: “We’ve constant problems with vandalism in and around Balmedie anyway, like down at the beach – it’s just routine and we don’t seem to be able to stop it.
“Obviously the tree that was destroyed – that was pure vandalism; but the stealing of the Santa might be a bit more orchestrated because it’s quite a big frame, so it must have gone at the back of a van.
“We are sort of fighting a losing battle around here.”
Police are investigating and appealed for anyone with information about Santa’s whereabouts to call 101. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting reference number PS-20211206-1961.