First theft in 50 years rocks locals on Canna

THE remote Hebridean island of Canna has been targeted by thieves for the first time in half a century – with the culprits making off with woolly hats, coffee, biscuits and beauty products.

The Isle of Canna, as seen from neighbouring island Rhum. Picture: Hemedia
The Isle of Canna, as seen from neighbouring island Rhum. Picture: Hemedia

The theft on the idyllic island, which welcomes over 10,000 visitors a year as well as a busy fishing fleet, has left the tiny population of only 22 stunned.

The thieves cleared out the Canna Community Shop, which had been run on an “honesty” basis, emptying shelves of sweets, biscuits, coffee, toiletries, batteries and six hand-knitted wool hats that had been on display.

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The crime, committed between 8pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday, is believed to be the first on the remote island since a wooden plate was stolen in the 1960s. The shop on Canna, which has no police station, was previously left unlocked to allow local sailors to use its wifi. But it will now be closed overnight to prevent the potential of future thefts as officers from the mainland investigate the crime.

The community shop which serves Canna. Picture: Hemedia

The Canna Community Trust, which runs shop, said in a statement: “In the four years our shop has been run on an honesty basis, this is the first time this has happened and we are all gutted by it. The thieves cleared the shelves of sweets, chocolate bars, coffee, biscuits, batteries and more.

“Most upsetting for [manager] Julie McCabe was they stole six of her hand-knitted Canna wool hats which were in the shop on a sale or return basis.

“The thieves would have had to fill carrier bags with the amount of items they took. Sadly, this means we will have to lock the door of the shop overnight now. We left it open specifically to welcome fisherman in to use the wifi and buy anything they needed while resting at our pier overnight. Thefts like this put our shop in jeopardy and may mean it will have to close, which would be a real shame after all the hard work and voluntary hours that go into it. The feedback from the fishing community was that it is a most welcome service. It is, therefore, very sad that they and other visitors have to lose out.”

Canna was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland by the celebrated Gaelic scholar, folklorist, historian and author John Lorne Campbell in 1981.

The Isle of Canna Community Shop, which was targeted by robbers. Picture: Hemedia

On social media, where the crime was widely condemned, the trust specifically made an appeal to the crew of one fishing boat who had berthed at the pier all night on Friday. They added: “If they have any info or witnessed anything, please get in touch. If anyone else has any information about this crime please let us know.

“With such a small community, this is the only way our shop can be viably run to provide a valuable service to locals and visitors.”

Councillor Bill Clark, who has represented the area for 13 years, said the thefts were “unbelievable”, adding: “I would think this is the first crime in years. I doubt very much if anyone even locks their doors there.”

Police Scotland has appealed for information.