Hospice Wairarapa general manager Suzie Adamson is gutted by the theft. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz

A nasty theft has shocked the community and set back a charity that provides palliative care.

Hospice Wairarapa, in Masterton, was burgled sometime between 6pm Thursday and 8am Friday.

Volunteers arrived at the Renall St property on Friday morning to find that outdoor furniture had been stolen, as well as items that were set to be sold to raise money for the organisation.

Hospice Wairarapa General Manager Suzie Adamson said it defied belief that someone would steal from an important community facility that received limited government funding.

The hospice had an annual running cost of more than $600,000, the majority of which came via community goodwill.

A donated furniture set including two white wrought iron tables and six matching seats was stolen, as was a fundraised large wooden dining table complete with a sun umbrella and eight chairs.

Stolen from a garden shed was a chainsaw, porcelain dolls and plants, which were destined to be sold in hospice garage sales held every Saturday.

Proceeds from these garage sales helped fund the 17 free services offered through the hospice.

“We support the patient, the caregiver, the family, and the whanau,” Mrs Adamson said.

“We support the patient through their palliative journey and offer whatever is important to them, and then the family and whanau in the bereavement period.”

She said an average of 90 patients and caregivers were supported at the facility each month.

The incident was “heart breaking”.

“We are very lucky to have such strong community support.

“And wouldn’t it be great if the people that stole from us realised they were stealing from our patients and returned the stuff – no questions asked.”

The garage sale volunteers, who put on the event in “rain, hail, or shine”, said they were shocked and saddened to discover the break-in.

Senior Sergeant Gordon Crawley said a padlock had been cut to gain access to the shed and a vehicle was likely used to remove the furniture from the site.

The incident was under investigation, and Mr Crawley encouraged people who saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of the hospice to report it to police.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the incident was “extremely sad”.

“The Hospice relies heavily on voluntary donations.

“Hopefully those responsible will be caught very soon.”