A LITTLE girl's heart has been broken because the buggy she got as a present from Santa was stolen.
Heartless thieves took the red Challenger buggy from the back garden of the home of seven-year-old Jessica Peoples in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, on Sunday night.
Yesterday, her father Michael made an emotional appeal for the return of the motorised buggy, which has personalised licence plates.
He has even offered a cash reward for information that might lead to the return of the buggy, which is worth €1,800.
"It's not even about the money now. It's the fact that it would mean so much to Jessica. Her heart is broken but it would mean the world to get the buggy back," he said.
Designed for off-road sport, the buggy can reach speeds of up to 25mph.
Thieves gained entry to the back garden of the Peoples' home, at Lismonaghan in Letterkenny. They took the buggy and an 8x4 builders' steel trailer, on which it was mounted.
Mr Peoples said he was in tears when he had to wake his daughter on Monday morning to tell her the buggy had gone.
"The tears welled up in her eyes. She said, 'People can't take Santa's presents away,'" he said.
Mr Peoples estimates that it would have taken at least two men to remove the trailer and buggy from the back as his jeep was blocking the entrance.
"Whoever took it knew well it was a present but obviously didn't care. How they can do something like this to a child is beyond me," he said.
Since opening the present with its pink 'Jessica 1' licence plates on Christmas morning, the little girl had scarcely stopped playing with it.
On the question of safety, Mr Peoples, a jet-ski enthusiast, said Jessica never went faster than walking speed in it.
He also revealed that he had not got around to insuring the vehicle.
Since the theft, he said Jessica had become nervous in her own home.
"She is going around the house at night with a little torch, making sure everything is locked up. That's a terrible way for a seven-year-old to be thinking. I hope this doesn't affect her down the line," he said.
Gardai are viewing CCTV footage of the area in a bid to track down the thieves.