The Grinch who stole Christmas appears to have struck a Palmerston North church, with thieves getting away with food and gifts collected for needy families.
St Patrick's Cathedral on Broadway Ave was burgled over the weekend, police said in a statement this morning.
A large amount of food and gifts that had been collected to distribute to families in need over the festive season were taken.
St Vincent De Paul Society president Mike Keenan told 1 NEWS thieves got away with 10 Christmas-wrapped and decorated parcels donated from a food drive at St James' Catholic School, as well as loose food, including cans, jam, coffee sachets, biscuits, chocolate bars, 500g packets of sugar, bread and 20kg of meat.
It's estimated value is between $1200 and $1500.
Keenan said the food would have gone out to around 20 families in need in time for Christmas. The church usually delivers 800 parcels a year, helping 3000 people — though some include people who get repeated packages throughout the year.
"I was pretty upset all day yesterday. I can't understand why people would do that sort of thing," he said, after finding the room was busted into through a window at 9am yesterday.
The door was sprawled open, lights were on, window frame removed and a big mess on the floor.
Keenan said the break-in could have either been opportunistic or planned, but he thought it could have been a young person or people due to the amount of sweet food taken.
The robbers broke in through a window, trashed the room and looked to have made a speedy getaway, likely using a vehicle due to the amount that was stolen, he said.
"They would have been pretty needy themselves."
However, Keenan was confident the community would come forward to replenish the stolen goods so that those in need don't go without this Christmas.
People are asked to donate food to Vinnies Shop on Rangitikei Street.
"We're grateful for the donations from the Manawatu area and wish everyone a great Christmas," Keenan said.
Meanwhile, area prevention manager Senior Sergeant Darren Paki said police are asking for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning to come forward.
"The theft of donations means less for these families at what is already a hard time of year.
"We would like to hear from anyone who saw something or who has information about those involved."
Anyone with information should get in touch by phoning 105 and quoting file number 201129/3944.