When something goes wrong in a small town, word travels fast.
It’s certainly the case for the South Hay Hotel, which has been rocked by the theft of thousands of dollars in charity donations.
The donations to Can Assist were somewhat of a community effort, pinned to the ceiling by the many hundreds of people who drink at the pub.
But on Thursday, publicans Sue and Ed Vitucci arrived at work to discover the ceiling had been stripped bare.
“We’ve had robbers before, but they’ve never taken charity money,” Ms Vitucci said.
“These people didn’t want hard work, they just wanted to climb up and gather as much money as they could.”
Ms Vitucci estimates more than $2000 was taken from the ceiling, with other amounts taken from a cabinet behind the bar.
Police have conducted fingerprint assessments and, thanks to CCTV footage, are hopeful of making an arrest.
Despite being disappointed in the thieves, Ms Vitucci said she had been “overwhelmed” by support from the wider Hay community.
Already patrons have started the long process of replastering the ceiling with donations.
“Just yesterday afternoon a fellow came over with a cheque,” Ms Vitucci said.
“I wanted to take them down in fear it might happen again, but the boys said ‘no, leave them there’.
“This is what the patrons want and I think it shows we won’t be broken and that this is a wonderful community.”
Dozens of people have written to the pub through Facebook to show their support.
“I'll be over there tomorrow with a $100 donation, let's build the kitty back up and keep up the great work,” said Jason Ragg.
Mark Payne wrote that he was “speechless”.
“Why didn't they just ask if they needed help? Hay is a lovely community anyone would of helped if they needed money for the right reasons,” he said.
“I’ll be sure to put money back up there on my next visit to Hay.”
Others said the thieves not only showed disrespect to the pub, but also the wider community.
Anyone with information is asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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