THIEVES snatched a Christmas tree a resident had erected for the local community in South Baddesley, near Lymington.
The theft during the early hours of Christmas morning came during the second year retired businessman Richard Head had placed the illuminated 4ft-high artificial spruce on the small triangular island between Brook Hill and New Town Lane, near his home.
Expressing his frustration at the offence, Mr Head told the A&T the tree had become a popular attraction for local residents.
The 77-year-old discovered it was missing on Christmas morning; his wife Susan (73) then remembered hearing youngsters giggling outside during the night, around 2am. This led them to suspect it may have been taken around this time.
“It’s a great pity,” Mr Head said.
“I can get a new tree easily, but it took three years of collecting the plain silver balls to go on the tree to pick up the car headlights.
“It’s not much good to anyone really – we’d fabricated a base to pin the tree into the ground, and they took it out of that. So they have a Christmas tree with a point at the bottom and nothing to put it in, although I suppose they could plant it in a garden.”
Mr Head, who used to run his own design company in London, explained he now spent a lot of time looking after the small triangle of land near his home. This included keeping it tidy and planting many bulbs there.
He first placed the tree on the site for Christmas 2018, and has spent about three years collecting the hard-to-find plain silver baubles to hang on it.
Put in place and decorated with help from his wife and local gardener Sean Tranter, Mr Head said the festive fixture had gone down well with locals.
“People used to stop and take photos of it, and when I was out and about they would sometimes come up and tell me how great they thought it was,” he continued.
“It jollied up the whole area, so it’s such a shame.
Mr Head hopes to be able to put another tree up on the triangle next Christmas if he can find enough of the plain silver baubles to adorn it with.
Anyone with information should contact Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190468095, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.