Sale family upset after decorations are stolen

Left to Right: Kal (9), Aydan (12), Sam and Laura (6) Blackledge

Stefan Bradley

Last Tuesday around 3.30pm, Sam Blackledge was at work when her 12-year-old son Aydan called her, quite upset.

Aydan asked Sam if his dad had moved their Christmas decorations from the front of their house.

Sam was struggling to figure out what was going on as Aydan sounded so distraught on the phone.

“They’re all gone”, Aydan told her.

Samantha was also feeling distracted, so she left work to go home.

Hundreds of dollars of decorations had been stolen, and she made a police report.

“It’s disgusting”, said Sam, “my poor kids have been in tears”.

“We put up all our decorations on Sunday for them to be stolen on Tuesday.”

“Every year we buy a fresh Christmas tree.

“During the week I bought new decorations from Bunnings, Target and all the local stores in Sale.

“It took myself and my 12-year-old son Aydan about four hours to decorate outside.

“We had music outside, it was such a beautiful experience as it always is.”

“My six-year-old daughter Laura placed all of her solar individual lights out in the front garden.

“We had purchased these beautiful metal native animals with Christmas hats on them, which light up at night.

“The kids were so happy.”

Sam believes it’s possible that the theft occurred early in the morning, but can’t say for sure.

“When I left for work on Tuesday morning between 8-8.30am, I do believe they were still there”, she said, “however it was a quick rush”.

“’Kids jump in the car, let’s go to school and work’.

“It may have happened during the day while the kids were at school.”

With the emotion in her voice obvious, Sam made it clear that it wasn’t about the cost of the decorations.

“I know it’s just some Christmas lights, but it’s the moral of it”, she said, “this is what I was trying to explain to the police”.

Laura (6), Aydan (12) and Kal (9) colouring in books together.

“Somebody has come out and stolen my kids’ joy of Christmas.”

“I put these lights up every year and somebody has come and destroyed their spirit and upset them, and that’s what has really gotten to me.

“I had a few tears over it, that’s how angry I was.

“We didn’t have any cameras, we didn’t hear anything.

“The police said they would go door-knocking to see if the other households had heard anything.”

Sam said that her family is quite close with the neighbours, and over the previous 14 days had been aware of some suspicious thefts on her street.

“Which is very concerning for us as a family and as a community so we’re quite scared for our safety and are on our toes,” she said.

Because of this, the family bought a security camera for the yard, a development Sam describes as sad.

“We’ve lived in this house for seven or eight years”, she said.

“I put up Christmas decorations on the house and in the front every year. Never had an issue before, never. We don’t feel safe, we really don’t.

“Our kids don’t feel safe during the day, and we don’t know what these people are capable of.”

During COVID, the family haven’t been able to do the normal things they wanted to do, so decorating the house with lights and putting out the Christmas tree quite early has brought happiness to themselves and the community.

“When we drive past a house covered in Christmas lights, my kids get excited and always ask us to slow down so have a look,” Sam said.

“I wanted other people to feel that way when they drive by our street.

“Now we feel like there is no happiness and joy out the front.”

Sam has bought new decorations, but wonders if it’s even worth it now.

“Are these ones going to be stolen,” she asked.

“Are my children going to end up in tears again?”

Wellington Police Service Area Inspector Craig Gaffee said stealing Christmas decorations wasn’t a typical crime.

“We don’t see that too often, but it’s a theft that we treat seriously like any other theft reported to us,” Inspector Gaffee said.

“Like many other crimes, information from the public helps us solve them,” he said.

“So certainly CCTV footage helps us.

“But more importantly, people report things that seem suspicious.

“It’s a really happy and festive time,” Inspector Gaffee said.

“You’d hope that people would be able to put Christmas decorations up without worry.”

Inspector Gaffee said that securing the decorations down and having a visible CCTV camera can act as deterrents.

Kal, aged nine, said he was worried that someone might break into their house, but was still looking forward to Christmas.

“I like looking at Christmas lights and having lunch and dinner with family”, Kal said, and Aydan agreed.

“Christmas is such a happy time for our family”, Sam said.

“It’s a giving time and we’re all celebrating something that’s positive.

“That’s what our family is about, being together and sharing that joy.”

The Blackledge family in front of their indoor Christmas tree.