COMMUNITY leaders have united to condemn heartless thieves who stole a family treasure from the garden of an Elgin pensioner just days before Christmas.
George Farquhar was heartbroken to discover the theft of one of his great-grandchildren’s favourite toys – a sit-in classic car – on the morning of December 23.
The 80-year-old said that the garden at his home in Priory Place had become a target for heartless crooks in recent years, with the latest incident the most upsetting of all.
When his visiting great-grandchildren were not using the miniature motor to whizz gleefully around the block, Mr Farquhar kept it in the garden as an attraction for passers-by.
“I kept it for when my great-grandchildren (aged two, three and six) came to stay,” said Mr Farquhar, who ran ABC Taxis before his retirement.
“It sat in the garden as a feature. When the children came, I just lifted it out of the garden and put the battery into it, and they used to take it around the street.
“Then the mechanism went wrong, and so I made it into a push-car, and when they visited I used to spend hours pushing them around the circle where I stay.
“They are all wee, and they loved going around in it.
“It was taken just before Christmas, during the hours of darkness,” Mr Farquhar said.
A concrete block which weighed the car down when it was not in use was dumped in the street.
Mr Farquhar has lived in the same house for more than 40 years, and takes pride in his garden. Until a few years ago, he had never had any problems.
“Recently, though, I have had three ornamental black cats, three Woody Woodpeckers, numerous garden ornaments, umpteen little gnomes, a concrete barrow and three push-bikes stolen from the garden. I have stayed here since 1964, but the stealing has all been in the last couple of years,” he said.
Police confirmed that they are investigating the theft, and appealed for anyone with any relevant information to get in touch.
Mr Farquhar, meanwhile, made a heartfelt plea for those responsible to return the family treasure.
“I don’t know how much it cost, but it is a beautiful wee thing, and the great-grandchildren just love it, so it would be great to get it back – no questions asked,” he said.
“I appeal to those who took it to have a heart and return it to me.”
Elgin City North councillors Patsy Gowans, Barry Jarvis and Mike Shand backed the call, urging anyone with information to “do the right thing”.
With thefts from gardens across Moray and further afield on the rise, Councillor Gowans urged those responsible to respect others and leave their property alone.
“I know that it is becoming increasingly common, but it is just cruel, because he obviously treasures the things in his garden – particularly this wee car,” she said.
“The things he puts in his garden, whether planting or ornamental pieces, obviously give him great pleasure, and this car clearly has sentimental value.
“I hope that anyone who knows anything about this will contact the police.”
Councillor Jarvis added: “This is evidently an opportunistic and utterly thoughtless theft; this is a much-loved toy that has brought countless hours of joy to the kids’ lives.
“I would encourage any members of the public who know who took this, or indeed the perpetrators themselves, to return it undamaged to its rightful owners.”
And Councillor Shand also urged anyone with information to help spread some New Year cheer.
He said: “The date when the car disappeared might point to this being a thoughtless prank by someone too full of the Christmas spirit. If so, it may well be that they now realise what they have done but don’t know how to rectify it. Just return it, even anonymously. Make it a really good start to the new year for Mr Farquhar and his great-grandchildren.”
Grampian Police can be contacted on 0845 600 5700, and Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.