Refuge gifts gone

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Cleo Fraser

CHIL­DREN from abu­sive homes missed out on Christ­mas presents af­ter a van packed with gifts was stolen from a Women’s Refuge.

More than 70 do­nated toys were stolen when thieves nabbed the van from the Mt Al­bert safe house.

“It’s ab­so­lutely gut­ting,” says man­ager Christina Pusz­tay.

“It’s just so aw­ful that some­one would stoop this low.”

Staff ar­rived at 9am on Mon­day to find the ve­hi­cle miss­ing.

Piled in the back and vis­i­ble to the thieves, were gifts in dec­o­ra­tive bags and la­belled with ei­ther boy or girl.

“Whoever took the van knew the gifts were for the chil­dren,” Ms Pusz­tay says. “We just couldn’t be­lieve it.”

The toys were sup­posed to be given out at the cen­tre’s an­nual Christ­mas party yes­ter­day.

About 50 peo­ple at­tended, in­clud­ing four women and six chil­dren stay­ing at the house.

Staff found some presents to give out, but the theft was still a blow.

“It means a lot of kids will miss out on gifts,” group fa­cil­i­ta­tor Jane Kearton says.

The rest of the stolen toys were to be do­nated to those who didn’t make it to the cel­e­bra­tions. They were to be de­liv­ered to the chil­dren’s homes in the van.

It was do­nated to the refuge and used to pick up women and chil­dren es­cap­ing from abu­sive part­ners.

The ve­hi­cle had just been ser­viced and filled with petrol ready to take chil­dren on a fun hol­i­day out­ing.

“We take them to Motat, the zoo, parks, you name it,” Mrs Pusz­tay says.

She says the women stay­ing at the house were “ex­tremely up­set” by the theft.

The van was parked be­hind trees on a drive­way near the house.

De­tec­tive sergeant Joe Au­mua says there are no lines of in­quiry.

To re­port sight­ings of the white, 1995 Ford van, li­cence TO1243, con­tact Auck­land po­lice, phone: 302-6400.

To make a do­na­tion to the refuge, phone: 849-5692.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

No presents: Women’s refuge work­ers af­ter their chil­dren’s were stolen, from left: Jane Kearton, Phayth Dore and Christina Pusz­tay.

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