Good samaritan bears new signs

Jason Atkinson, of Artcraft, helped give Tambo a bear-y beautiful new crossing sign for local teddies.

Hamish Hart

Since the saleof their first bear in February 1993, Tambo Teddies has hand-crafted and sold morethan 50,000 woollen toys to people across the globe including Prince Williamand Duchess Kate, and Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of the British Royal Familyduring their visits to Australia in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

According toQueensland Police, the two sets of teddy bear safety signs were stolen from Tambo’sArthur Street on the night of October 8, with a four-wheel-drive vehicle beingwitnessed near one of the signs at around midnight.

Co-owner ofTambo Teddies, Alison Shaw, said she was gobsmacked after discovering the signswere missing from outside their iconic bear business.

“I was shocked. I noticed one of them was missing on the Friday morning,” Ms Shaw said. “To think that someone had gone to the effort of stealing both signs is disappointing.

“We aren’t used to this kind of stuff happening out here. Why take something that belongs and means so much to the community?”

Since the low act was committed, Tambo Teddies has received an abundance of support from local residents and social media, prompting Jason Atkinson from Artcraft, installer of the original signs, to lend his services free of charge.

“Artcraft rang us and said they were going to make new and bigger signs,” Ms Shaw said. “It was so generous and kind. They look fantastic and we are really grateful for their support.

“People were horrified when they heard the signs were stolen and now we are receiving delightful comments about what a positive outcome this is.

“It’s heart-warming to see when something negative happens, something positive can come out of it.”

Mr Atkinson said he was overwhelmed by the support he received from not only Tambo Teddies, but local and travelling denizens of the Outback.

“The Teddy Crossing is a landmark for the area and a great selfie opportunity,” he said. “Artcraft was in a position where we could support a local community in a region where we look after their signage.

“Although it ties in with Tambo Teddies, the signs are officially-approved road signs, so taxpayers would have had to foot the bill for a light-fingered fly through.

“I enjoy my Outback trips and have a genuine interest in the regions I visit and the friends I have made along the way.

“It was a very easy decision for us to replace the signs as soon as we could.

“I had question after question on the street as I was installing the new signs and it was obvious a lot of people had heard, and were upset, about the signs going missing. Talking and engaging with strangers, and seeing how happy they were, was well worth it.

“A few couples went for a walk down town, so I had enough time to finish installing the signs for selfies upon their return. It was great to see smiles and selfies happening again.”

Ms Shaw thanked Mr Atkinson and Artcraft for their generous support and contributions during what had been a difficult few weeks for Tambo Teddies, and offered stern advice to the unidentified thieves.

“No one has come forward. I imagine whoever has them would be hiding,” she said.

“To whoever stole them — get a life. This doesn’t help anybody in any community. We need to live and work together, and not for our own selfless reasons.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.