The family which owns Gandey's Circus are going to donate £250 to replace the unknown quantity of cash which was stolen, after it had been donated for the RNLI by guests who saw the circus while it was in Guernsey.
Guernsey Police said two donation buckets and a money tin belonging to the circus itself, were taken "sometime between 01:30 and 09:00, Saturday 19 May 2018."
The money was being kept inside the Box Office at Gandey's Circus, Victoria Avenue, St Sampson, when the office was entered, by "unknown persons" who have "forced the padlock on the door, and stolen roughly £100 from a money tin, and also two RNLI Charity Buckets, both containing an unknown amount of cash donated by the public."
Binky - the circus ringmaster - has told Express the money was not easily taken. The money was being kept inside the Box Office which was protected by a cage with the door to the room locked. He said it was the first time they've experienced an incident like this and he was surprised it had happened in Guernsey.
"In 30 years of coming to the Channel Islands, this has never happened before," he said. "It won't put us off coming back but it has surprised us. We've got a cage which they managed to break into and they caused a lot of other damage and mess too. They threw food everywhere.
"We're just upset that someone would do that. I guess it is the way the world is going, and in the Channel Islands too."
Binky told Express that he was told that there have been other incidents of break ins and criminal damage in the island recently. Guernsey Police have not linked any of the incidents but they include an attempted break in at North Football Club over the same weekend, a spate of vandalism in the area around the Odeon Car Park the weekend before, a spate of vandalism in the north of the island the weekend before that and a week previously there were further reports of criminal damage in the area around Mont Arrive. Earlier this year Guernsey Police confirmed they were investigating claims that juveniles were seen on private property in areas including around Rue Mainguy.
None of the incidents have been linked but in each case Guernsey Police asked for any witnesses to call the investigating officers on 725111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. The circus theft is being investigated by PC 82 Le Page.
The circus was in Guernsey for one week, with most shows a sell out. The organisers had decided to raise funds during its Guernsey performances for the RNLI acknowledging the strong links the island community would have with the charity Binky said once they realised the money had been stolen he spoke with Celia Allen from the local branch of the Friends of the RNLI to let her know the bad news.
While Ms Allen was sympathetic, the Gandey family continued to feel responsible so decided to donate some of their own money to replace what went missing. Donations collected during the remaining shows held on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 May, after the alleged break in, reached £240 so the Gandey family has said it will round that up and also donate £250 to the Guernsey branch of the RNLI.
Binky said the circus will be putting on shows in Jersey from Thursday 24 May and will be raising money for Jersey Hospice while there. He said they have also had to put additional security measures in place.
"We already employ security staff who work during the shows to ensure everyone's safety," he said, adding that the security personnel also act as trained first aiders while the circus perfomers are in the ring. However, he said for the first time ever Gandey's Circus is employing security staff 24 hours a day.
Binky said "it's very sad that we have to do this, but that is the world we live in now. We've never needed security in 30 years of coming to the Channel Islands. I thought it was like the Isle of Man, where I know people can leave their back doors uniocked. But we've had to take on night time security staff as well now for our shows in Jersey, after what has happened in Guernsey."
He said staff had been very upset by the incident in Guernsey as personal possessions were damaged as well as circus property.
"They broke through a door and a security cage to reach the money, and they went through other peoples' stuff too. They stole drinks and food from the stock room and went through peoples' hand bags."
Binky also said the break in left staff with a logistical nightmare as they had to sort out hundreds of pre booked tickets which had been arranged alphabetically as they were booked, ahead of three shows on Saturday and the final two on Sunday.
"It took hours for us to clean it up. Ticket books and receipts were thrown everywhere and they were all messed up. It took us four hours to clear it all up so we were ready for our first show.
"We had to arrange all of the tickets alphabetically again and ensure we had customer's receipts in place so when they came in and asked for their tickets we could quickly find it alphabetically. We don't have much time in between shows so this is important to make sure we don't leave people waiting a long time in big queues."
Binky said the experience hasn't put them off coming back to the Channel Islands though and we should see Gandey's Circus back in Guernsey in 2019.
"It hasn't put us off coming here at all. Unfortunately it seems to be the way countries are going all over the world and Guernsey isn't any different, but it hasn't put us off.
"We had a great time in Guernsey and in Jersey in 2017 and we've just had a great time in Guernsey last week. We've been here before countless times including with the Chinese State circus and ice shows and we will be back again definitely."
Binky also said Howie, the acrobat who was injured when he fell during one of the performances in Guernsey is continuing to recover. While he wasn't seriously injured and suffered mainly bruising he has yet to be able to return to his usual performance and is helping out in other ways at the circus before he is able to resume his part of the act.
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