Security has been stepped up at a popular Christmas visitor attraction in Co Antrim after it was targeted by vandals and thieves just a day after it opened to the public.
A till was removed from a payment kiosk and a number of log cabins were damaged at the Enchanted Winter Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens on Saturday night.
The festive-themed family event, organised by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, opened on Friday and runs until December 17.
Despite the damage caused overnight, it opened to the public on Sunday as planned.
Condemning those who targeted the Enchanted Winter Garden, Mayor Paul Michael said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of this incident over the weekend. Our award-winning Enchanted Winter Garden event is enjoyed by thousands of families from across Northern Ireland every year and I would condemn these individuals whose reckless actions have caused this damage.”
He continued: “Our traders rely on events such as these to provide an income for their business and anti-social behaviour such as this can have a damaging impact.
“I would like to thank the staff at Antrim Castle Gardens along with the traders who responded so efficiently to ensure no disruption was caused to the event on Sunday.
“Security at the event has been increased as a result of this and I would appeal to anyone who has any information to contact the PSNI.”
Police in Antrim are investigating what happened and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
“It is believed that a number of youths entered the area at approximately 10:30pm on Saturday 8th September and removed a till from a payment kiosk, damaging it. Thankfully there was no money in the till at the time,” a PSNI spokesperson said.
“Some of the log cabins were entered and confectionary was stolen along with damage being caused to some machinery.
“The value of the damage caused could run into the thousands of pounds and unfortunately this affects the local businesses who run the stalls.
“If anyone has any information please contact police on 101 quoting reference number 713 of 09/12/18.”
Police officers were on patrol at the event last night and reported a number of youths “causing some unwanted anti-social behaviour.”
“I would appeal to parents to know where your son or daughter is and to encourage them to be on their best behaviour. The event is family-orientated and we would like everyone to enjoy their visit,” a police spokesperson added.