Friday, June 15, 2007

Hope as stolen rugs mysteriously returned

Hope as stolen rugs mysteriously returned
GARETH ROSE
(grose@edinburghnews.com)
RUGS stolen from a charity shop trying to raise money to build schools in Afghanistan have been mysteriously returned.

They were dropped off at Saraswati, in Holyrood Road, by a taxi driver who had been flagged down in the street on Saturday, at about 3.40pm.

The five rugs are among the less expensive of the ones taken and worth about £500 in total. However, it has given the owners hope the others may yet be returned.

Ten Afghan rugs worth about £2800 in total were taken during the raid, which took place at some point over the bank holiday weekend leading up to May 28.

It has endangered the future of the charity shop and its efforts to raise money to build schools in the war-torn country.

Dan Gorman, project manager with the Edinburgh University Settlement, which was set up by the university but is now independent, said: "I'm hopeful this is going to lead to us getting the rest back.

"If there's any chance of that happening we've got to hang on to it because we really need to see the others returned.

"I think when the story of the theft appeared in the Evening News it pulled a few heart strings and someone has had a pang of conscience.

"I hope they are now realising the importance of the work that this charity shop is trying to do, and how much it is needed by a small community."

Mr Gorman was not in the shop on Saturday when the rugs were returned.

Instead, it was a volunteer who took them off the taxi driver and before he was able to find out what had happened the cabbie had left.

Mr Gorman said: "There were a few volunteers in the shop at the time. This taxi pulled up, the driver got out, and he had in the back this bundle of rugs. The volunteer did not know the background and did not really know what was going on. The taxi driver just said a woman in her 40s had flagged him down and given them to him."

The rugs have been identified as ones taken from the shop and are still in immaculate condition.

They include two Turkmen carpets, two Kuchi kilns, and another kiln that had not originally been identified as missing.

However, several items, including some expensive rugs, have not yet been returned.

The include a large felt rug, about four metres squared, with brown and blue lines, worth £400, and a large yellow rug with two large red pomegranates in the middle and a surround border of small pomegranates, worth £1040.

Two Zeigler rugs with distinctive stripy designs, worth £380 for the pair; two Beluch Runners - long red designed carpets, which look classically Persian, long enough to sit in a passageway or on stairs, which are worth £400 in total; and two Turkmen carpets, which also look classically Persian, with heavy design work and are mainly red, worth £500 combined, are all still missing.

A £32 bag and six Gudjeri cushions, which have stripy carpet on front, and wine-coloured velvet on the back, worth £48 in total, were also stolen in the raid.

The majority of the money raised through these rugs would have gone to building schools in north-east Afghanistan. However, Saraswati is also selling traditional tribal dresses made by Afghan women and the money from that will go to a charity called Zan that helps women in the country.
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