Heartless thieves who stole hundreds of pounds worth of toys destined for Santa’s grotto at Brooklands Pleasure Park have left its manager “sickened”.
Kevin McCluskey told the Herald he was dismayed to discover a large quantity of gifts that had been wrapped up for the park’s popular festive attraction were cruelly stolen from its Lakeshore Café.
And he added staff were especially upset by the incident as it is the second time in two years they have been targeted.
Mr McCluskey said his team had stored the gifts there on Thursday evening, ready for the peak Christmas rush, which has forced them pay out a significant amount of money to keep the grotto’s supply of presents going.
They returned to the site on Friday morning to find thieves had forced entry to the café and made off with the presents, which included dolls and other small stocking filler gifts.
Mr McCluskey added: “I am absolutely gutted by this. Why would anyone want to do this and steal children’s Christmas gifts?
“We have been left sickened by this theft. We had been working quite late on Thursday with all our present wrapping for the grotto and didn’t finish till around 11pm.
“So, it was a big shock to wake up the next day to find that all the presents had gone overnight.
“What makes it worse is that it is the second time this has happened. Last year, thieves broke in here and stole all the presents, but then just dumped them in our lake.
“We have had the Santa’s grotto here for years now and it has been going really well.
“It’s been huge for us and we have had long queues of people here this past week.
“But it’s only because we’ve been able to go out and buy more presents today that we are able to keep it going.
“The presents are things like dolls and other stocking fillers, which may not be worth a lot each, but it was something that we really wanted to do.
“I’ve been here for six years now and I love it, so I am not going to let this spoil our Christmas.”
He revealed that the park has also suffered from further incidents in recent times.
In addition to the thefts, he said he was forced to call police at Hallowe’en, after groups of youths were causing an anti-social disturbance in the park. He said they had been “swearing and shouting”.
Mr McCluskey said that despite having to contend with such issues, he has been glad to continue running such activities within the park.
A police spokesperson condemned the theft of toys from children at Christmas as “a heartless thing to have done”.
He urged anyone with any information regarding the incident to contact police urgently on 101.
People can also call Crimestoppers about the incident anonymously on 0800 555 111 .
n The festive theft follows in the wake of money being stolen from a charity shop in the town centre, that was broken into three days after it had been opened by Olympic medal winner Tina Cook.