A holiday fund worth €2,500 was stolen from a tight knit community of adults with special needs in Kilcullen just days before they were due to leave for a weeklong trip to Westport.
Thieves, who targeted the community twice in eight days, first hit the 28-acre Dunshane Camphill Community on Friday, June 13, at 7pm.
They broke in and stole a laptop, television, camera, watches and £1,840 cash in sterling. Just over a week later, on Saturday, June 21, between 6pm and 8pm raiders entered the office, taking more cash, pre-signed cheques and the safe, after it was ripped from the wall. Both robberies amounted to €7,000 and took place near to residential accommodation for people with special needs,
“We are heading for Westport tomorrow [Tuesday] for five days,” said Camphill coordinator Joe Lynch, speaking on Monday.
“We raised a bit of money on Sunday from our open day and we are desperately trying to make sure the holiday doesn’t get called off.”
The heartless thieves stole holiday money belonging to five people with various intellectual disabilities. Gardaí were alerted as soon as the robberies were detected, however no arrests have been made in connection with the raids. Some of the money in the first raid was stolen from a couple who volunteer at the centre and were heading to their daughter’s wedding in the UK last week.
“The couple are long term volunteers here - they don’t get paid,” he added. “To rob from them is just awful. Thankfully they made the wedding last week. So after that we put everything in the safe bolted to the wall. But a week later they came in with an iron bar and stole the safe.”
Mr Lynch appealed to anyone who is given a cheque with ‘Camphill’ on it to please contact the Gardai.
Described as ‘the lowest of the low’, the theft will not thankfully prevent the holiday from taking place. However the community is now struggling as a result and all help would be appreciated.
“I have begged and borrowed to get the funds together for the holiday,” he said. “I just couldn’t live with myself if I had to tell them that they couldn’t go on holiday. The residents have been a bit nervous since the two break-ins and having gardai around finger printing with the premises on lock down is something we never normally have to do.
“This is a lot more than just the money being stolen. If people want to help out they can contact Camphill directly. This is very disheartening. It seriously upsets very vulnerable people who do not understand how this could happen to them. The thieves are preying on the most vulnerable people in society and they have undermined many years of work with these wonderful people. How anyone could do this to these people with special needs, is frankly just beyond me.’
Founded in 1985, the community is situated not far from Brannockstown, Naas.
It is home to 22 people with special needs and two other people who attend on day placement.
Each year the Dunshane Community tries to organise holidays for people that are resident in the community and this year two groups have already availed of trips to Barcelona and Sicily.