A Fairy Meadow family has been left heartbroken after thieves struck in the middle of the night, removing about $500 worth of Christmas house decorations.
Derrian Catto-Pitkin, an emergency services worker, returned to her Hamilton Street home on Friday morning after a 12-hour shift to find "some mean-spirited Scrooge" had stolen most of her family's front yard Christmas display.
The thieves are believed to have struck between 11pm on Thursday, when Mrs Catto-Pitkin's husband took the rubbish out, and 7am on Friday.
She said her four children, aged between one and 10 were saddened by the theft.
Her eight-year-old son in particular was inconsolable.
"He just couldn't believe anyone could do it," Mrs Catto-Pitkin said.
Items stolen included reindeer, a Santa, flags and lights.
The thieves' timing couldn't have been worse.
The family had been planning to take photos of the display and send it into the Mercury's Christmas lights competition yesterday evening.
Mrs Catto-Pitkin said this year had been particularly bad for the family, as a close relative was undergoing cancer treatment, and the lights had provided some much-needed Christmas cheer.
"It's just hard this time of year so we were trying to keep our spirits up a bit," she said.
The family weren't the only ones in Fairy Meadow who had decorations stolen.
The Illawarra Mercury has been made aware of a family on McMahon Street who also had their lights stolen on Thursday night.
Mrs Catto-Pitkin has reported the theft to the police, however she isn't getting her hopes up.
Yesterday, she put up a sign in the front yard requesting the return of the lights, "no hard feelings, no questions asked".
"We're just hoping somebody, even if they don't return my lights, that they don't pinch anyone else's," she said.
"[The lights] belonged to kids who took the time to pick them and set them up.
"Perhaps if they understand the impact it has had they might not do it again."