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December 18, 2009
Burglars grab ‘Christmas cheer’ from Salvation Army

The season of giving and sharing turned into one night of taking for one or more heartless burglars last weekend.{{more}}

Sometime between the night of Saturday, December 12, and early Sunday morning, the Salvation Army headquarters in Kingstown was burglarised, and 200 parcels of rice, 170 parcels of sugar, flour and some clothing were stolen.

All of the stolen items were to be used to make up parcels to be given to the elderly on Wednesday this week as part of the Army’s annual Christmas Parcel distribution.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that the intruders used a ladder to climb over the wall from the yard of Demerara Mutual Life Insurance, after which they made their way through the barbed wire and then broke a windowpane, gaining entry to the room where all the items were stored.

SEARCHLIGHT’s investigations on Tuesday morning revealed heaps of rice grains scattered in the parking lot of Demerara Mutual Life and dug up grass in the area where the ladder was found on Sunday.

However, the unfortunate events seem not to have dampened the spirits of Major Henry King, officer in charge of the Army. King said that it was the first time something like that happened, but was still thankful that they were able to carry out their event on Wednesday.

“We usually distribute 500 parcels each year, but right now we only have 242 left for persons,” King revealed. He said it was not until they had finished parceling out the remaining packages that the extent of the damage was revealed.

Describing the event as sad, King said that persons who were not able to receive parcels on Wednesday might have to be accommodated at another date in light of the unfortunate turn of events.

Most of the money used to purchase food items came from the Army’s Kettle appeal.

Since the day of the burglary, persons have called in to radio stations across the nation and pledged their support. Monetary donations have also been forthcoming.

In light of the Army’s misfortune, Guardsman St Vincent Limited have given their word to provide security for the Army for the remainder of the season and beyond, free of cost. Plans are already in place to install burglar bars on all windows at the Army.

King said despite the economic tsunami, there is still hope and that he is leaving everything in the hands of the Lord. He also wished Vincentians a Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2010.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board Norma Knights expressed sadness over the Army’s loss and noted that Christmas is a time of cheer and sharing, not sadness.

On Wednesday, police told SEARCHLIGHT that investigations into the burglary were still underway.