GRINCHES have stolen festive spirit in Wokingham again as the town centre Christmas tree lights were cut again.
For the second year in a row, vandals have targeted the tree, which stands at the junction of Market Place, in the shadow of the town hall.
As with last year, parts of the tree now falls into darkness over the key dates over the festive period.
An expert who posted photos of the cut lights on social media said that he thought the vandals would only have had a 12-volt shock, and that a tool was used to carry out the crime.
And the vandals, not content with wrecking the festive lights that bring cheer to so many, also hacked away at a number of branches, leaving them strewn across the base of the tree.
The extent of the damage – and the cutting of the lights – suggests that it was a planned attack.
Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Wokingham Town Council leader, said: “CCTV was trained on the tree, and footage will have been recorded.
“The damage doesn’t seem to have been as bad as last year and the incident has been reported to the police.
“It must have happened in the early hours of this morning.”
And in other festive attacks, a wreath had been stolen from a Wokingham home around 2.30am this morning.
On social media, there was condemnation from people for the vandalism, with one calling it “appalling” and another saying: “Somebody needs to get a life and stop spoiling other people’s lives”.
Dave Davies, who was leader of Wokingham Town Council at the time of last year’s attacks, was appalled that the vandals have returned.
He told The Wokingham Paper: “I’m disgusted to see vandals have again targeted the festive heart of the town and I hope that the CCTV will quickly identify those responsible.”
Last year, the crime happened overnight on Christmas Day, and saw the vandals tear down the protective fencing around the tree, cut through lighting and damaged decorations that had been created by primary school children from across the borough.
Town councillors then gave up their Boxing Day to make the tree safe, only to see their hard work trashed again the following night, destroying almost all of the school’s decorations that they left behind in the first attack.
It is thought that last year, the vandals caused around £3,000 worth of damage – the cost of replacement lights and installing them.