Church Vandalised at Christmas

Father Stephen Conway in front of the Christmas lights display, which was damaged by vandals last week.  Picture: Andrew Ritchie         www.communitypix.com.au   d448190
Father Stephen Conway in front of the Christmas lights display, which was damaged by vandals last week. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d448190

VANDALS caused thousands of dollars damage to a Christmas light display on a Mt Lawley tree last week.

Father Stephen Conway, of St Patrick’s Anglican Church, said the vandalism was an act of “lunacy”.

Father Conway returned to the rectory late on Tuesday afternoon to find vandals had damaged 7.5km of lights set up a month earlier.

He said thieves had uprooted the transformer that powered the specially imported European fairy lights, knocked over a floodlight, damaged signage, thrown bricks and rocks, and damaged solar-|powered fairy lights and reticulation, causing about $3000 damage.

“The lights in total, with everything included, cost about $9000 but we’ll have to figure out how far they’ve damaged them,” he said.

“I picked up a wheelbarrow worth of pipes, star pickets, rocks and bricks they’d thrown on to the road and whilst I was doing that, I talked to the neighbours and they said it looked like there had been damage further down the street, so maybe we were unlucky enough to be a part of a rampage.”

The church teamed up with local businesses and the City of Vincent to launch the first Mt Lawley Christmas Festival, which involved lighting up the brand new lights on the century-old pine tree.

Father Conway said it was disappointing and he did not know how much insurance would cover.

“It’s just so much money involved. We decided to arrange it so they’d be up there for five years (and we’d just turn them on and off) but they’ve got to come down until we can get an electrician in to check everything over,” he said.

“If (vandals) have given it a tug and it’s come away at the top, it costs $2000 to get the cherry picker out, let alone fixing things.

“Hopefully it works out that the $6000 of fairy lights are alright and all we need is a new extension cable.”

Father Conway said it was confronting it happened in broad daylight and he was thankful someone had tried to tidy up bricks and star pickets on Beaufort Street before he arrived.

“You expect these things to happen at midnight, not the middle of the day,” he said.

“The lunacy of one person is not going to break our spirit and we’ll be back bigger and better next year, so stay tuned.”