Hippity Hop Childcare’s mascot hippo statue has been snatched from an outdoor yard in a bizarre Pakenham theft this week.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘Hip Hop’ by the children, staff first noticed the grey hippo missing in the two-year-olds’ Yellow Room at about 3pm on Wednesday 14 September.
The hippo thief is thought to have jumped the fence to the childcare centre and moved logs within the yard to escape back over the fence with the hippo.
Centre director Vicki Ferguson said she had lifted the knee-high fibreglass statue in the past and that it weighed about 20kg.
“It would have been quite heavy to carry over the fence,” she said.
“Someone’s probably got it in their front or backyard – so we’re hoping someone will recognise it and we’ll get it back soon.
“Needless to say our children and families are disappointed and quite upset. The children in the Yellow Room even went on a hippo hunt on Friday morning to search the centre for the hippo.”
The hippo was believed to have been stolen on Monday or Tuesday night.
Senior Sergeant Nathan Prowd said police were investigating the incident and encouraged people who might recognise the hippo up for sale online or in a front yard to contact authorities.
“It takes a certain type of person to steal from a childcare centre,” Sen Sgt Prowd said.
“This hippo would be part of these children’s daily lives. They’d be used to seeing it there and it’s been taken away.
“It’s poor behaviour to steal from anyone, let alone young children.
“We’re encouraging people who may recognise the hippo suddenly appearing for sale or in somebody’s backyard to report it to the police.”
Anyone with information was urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Pakenham Police on 5945 2500.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.