Thieves make off with gazebo used by Hayling Island volunteers - but community rallies to find and return it
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Volunteers from Heart of Hayling Boxing Academy have been delivering more than 100 prescriptions a day across Hayling Island from Hobbs Pharmacy in Elm Grove.
To free up space within the store, the volunteers had been sheltering under a large gazebo, donated by first responder Dave Clarke, while they sorted the prescriptions by postcodes.
On Tuesday evening, the gazebo mysteriously disappeared and the community soon got to work to find the culprits and recover the missing item - with the boxing academy set to foot the £500 bill for a new one if it were not found.
Thanks to co-operation between Sainsbury’s, Co-Op and Hobbs, who all have external CCTV, the Hayling police team was able to act quickly and find the gazebo and return it to its rightful owners.
Volunteer Richard Coates said he felt fortunate to live in a community which pulls together whatever the adversity.
He said: ‘While the theft shows the depths to which criminals will go during the virus crises in potentially disrupting medicine delivery across the island by volunteers, it also shows the tremendous good will alive and kicking across the island, as no sooner was the incident on social media that multiple offers to help with replacement gazebos and information helping to identify the thieves.
‘The incident is also a great example of practical community policing in action with the public and businesses all pitching in to help the police who themselves were on the case immediately using their knowledge of the island built up over many years of being an active part of the community and its activities.’
The hardworking volunteers are continuing to deliver the essential medication, but are unable to use the gazebo in case it is taken again.
A spokesman for the police said: ‘We received a report that a gazebo had been stolen from Mengham Road, Hayling Island, some time overnight on April 28.
‘Officers from the Hayling Island neighbourhood policing team have been making enquiries and have subsequently located the gazebo. The investigation remains ongoing.’