Gigha residents shocked as first serious crime in years sees £2000 stolen from island’s only hotel

Willie McSporran, 82, who led the island's famous community land buyout  in 2002, said: "It's terrible that these things are happening now after all these years." Picture: Donald MacLeod.
Willie McSporran, 82, who led the island's famous community land buyout in 2002, said: "It's terrible that these things are happening now after all these years." Picture: Donald MacLeod.
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It is a virtually crime-free island where many of the locals have never felt the need to lock their doors.

However, the first serious crime to be reported on Gigha for years has sent shock waves rippling through the community owned island, which is home to just 160 people.

As police investigate the weekend theft of £2000 cash from the island’s only hotel, resident Willie McSporran, 82, who led the island’s famous community land buyout in 2002, said: “It’s terrible that these things are happening now after all these years.

“The last thing I remember is a bike going missing about 20 years ago, when my brother had the local shop.

“When we are on the island our door is open but we will lock the door now, I think it would be sensible for people to lock their doors now.

“People tend to be more trusting on the islands, they have no suspicion, but they will need to think again.”

Ken Deacon, lease owner of the community trust owned Gigha Hotel, said staff discovered the cash was missing from a storeroom when they opened up on Sunday morning.

Mr Deacon, 66, said: “It was about £2000, part of the takings from the evening and the float. We had a busy Saturday night, a normal sort of Saturday, the hotel was full of guests.”

Mr Deacon added that everyone was shocked by the theft as serious crime was so rare on Gigha.

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He said: “There might be a few lads on the island that get into a bit of mischief, but nothing like this.

“I have been here four years and the last crime that I remember was a bicycle that was technically borrowed and returned the next morning, that was two or three years ago.

“As one police officer said, on the west coast and especially the smaller islands, we have lived in a bubble.

“My house has not been locked for four years, I don’t lock my car, a lot of people here haven’t ever locked their house.

“It has disturbed people because they are now thinking have we now got to start locking up?”

Mr Deacon moved to Gigha from Lincolnshire four years ago after retiring from a career working for others in the pub and hotel trade to take on the lease of the community owned hotel.

He said: “It was the island lifestyle that sold it to me, I retired to come here and take the business on.

“We have to look at this as a one off event, we just have to change one or two little things.

“The insurance companies are telling me, you need to put CCTV in, it points the finger at everyone which is unfortunate.

“The police are coming back to do a survey of what we can do to make things more secure. They are going to take finger prints and DNA samples from all the staff who handle cash, they will have to do it for elimination purposes.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Between 10.00pm on Saturday September 8 and 1.00am on Sunday September 9 at the Gigha Hotel on the Isle of Gigha, entry was gained to a store room and money was stolen.

“Constable David Hope at Campbeltown Police Station is investigating the incident and is appealing for any witnesses, or anyone with any information, to contact him on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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