A Strathmore hockey group is now being forced to find other ways to cover its budget after thieves stole an important fundraising tool from a local arena on Christmas Day.

Sometime on December 25, a thief broke down the front door of the Strathmore Family Centre Arena, grabbed the ATM and dragged it out of the building before loading it onto a stolen truck and driving away.

Authorities say it took the suspect about an hour and a half to complete the burglary.

Chad Moskal, president of Strathmore Minor Hockey, says it’s a heavy blow to the league because a lot of people don’t know that the bank machine is actually owned by them.

“We use it as a bit of a fundraiser for the things that we do with Strathmore Minor Hockey. Every time that you take a withdrawal from the machine, there are fees that are applied and we actually got a piece of that.”

He says he was stunned when he first heard that the machine had been stolen.

“It was like the Grinch had really stolen Christmas. It was just a shock. You don’t think of things like that happening and especially on Christmas Day. It’s not really Strathmore Minor Hockey’s money. The 450 kids that are in the association; it’s their money.”

Every year, the league makes about $7,000 to $10,000 from the machine but with it missing, the players are now without those funds. To make matters worse, the money that the machine was loaded with also belonged to the group, so much more has been stolen.

“It’s a big loss for Strathmore Minor Hockey.”

Now, Moskal says they are working on different ways to come up with the money so that their programming doesn’t suffer.

“We need that money for some of the initiatives that we’re doing so we’re hoping that we’ll come up with some different fundraising activities.”

Moskal says that at this point of the year, it’s going to be challenge because they’ve exhausted a lot of their options.

“Hockey is always a fundraising thing. We are forever fundraising. The parents are always helping out volunteering. At this time of the year, we are almost volunteered out. The hours that the parents and all the managers and coaches put in have been staggering already.”

The board will be meeting over the next while to come up with some more ideas to raise money.

Police are investigating the theft and are looking over the security video provided to them by the facility’s operators.

(With files from Jordan Kanygin)