Waite criticises 'mean spirited' thieves

FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has hit out at “mean spirited” thieves who stole nearly 20 charity advertisement boards during a mysterious night-time crime spree.

FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has hit out at “mean spirited” thieves who stole nearly 20 charity advertisement boards during a mysterious night-time crime spree.

Residents in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds, were left baffled after discovering the large roadside signs, promoting a forthcoming fete, had completely disappeared.

Last night, Mr Waite, who lives in the picturesque village and is patron of the annual fete, said: “Whoever might have taken them, it's very mean spirited. Everyone in the village works so hard for the fete and local publicity is essential to assure attendance.”

The signs, which were donated by local estate agent David Burr, were put up last Thursday along the B1066, which runs through the village.


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But on Friday afternoon, fete organisers realised most of the signs - which were also situated in neighbouring villages including Glemsford, Whepstead and Brockley -were nowhere to be seen.

The mysterious disappearance has left residents wondering who is responsible, and what someone would want with the signs.

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“Practically all of them have been stolen, but no one saw them go and it is a mystery to us all,” said fete organiser Gill Leeming.

“Anyone who runs a local event knows that signs sometimes get moved, and in previous years we have always had one or two that have disappeared, but this appears to be more of a considered removal.

“None of the signs have been left on the verges, and whoever has done this would have needed a van or a lorry to remove the boards because they are very tall and heavy.”

The popular fete, which will take place on August 28, usually attracts crowds of over 1,000 people, with proceeds going towards the village church.

This year, organisers have lined up GMTV presenter John Stapleton as the celebrity guest.

“We depend on publicity like the advertising boards to remind people to come to the fete, and we don't know yet whether they can be replaced at such short notice,” said Mrs Leeming.

“Some of the signs were on private land, and one was even outside the village institute in the centre of the green, so it is amazing that whoever stole them did it without being seen.

“There is a lot of speculation in the village as to who is responsible, and some people think it could be someone with a personal grudge against the fete, but we might never know.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said the matter was being investigated. Anyone with information should contact Pc Sally Smith, at Sudbury Police Station, on 01284 774300.

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