Portarlington Lions Club President Willie Murphy is asking the public to help them to find the truck. a blue Toyota Dyna pickup, registration number 97 KE 3987.
The shockingly fast robbery took place at 8.30pm, as Mr Murphy and the owner of the truck, another club member, were putting up a poster to advertise a Trade Fair to raise money for local charities.
“We hopped back out of the van to put an extra tie on the poster, leaving it running, and a fella hopped in. My colleague got to the door but the man pulled it out of his hand, I heard of ‘gone in 30 seconds’, but this was gone in seven,” said a shocked Mr Murphy.
The thief took off at high speed along Spa Street, narrowing avoiding crashing into an approaching car and jeep.
These drivers stopped and upon hearing of the crime, gave the lions members each a lift, and turned and pursued the truck, but it had already driven out of sight.
“He went over the bridge and just disappeared, we heard later that he was seen travelling down the bog road (towards Botley Lane) so he could have gone to Mountmellick or Tullamore,” said Mr Murphy.
He immediately called 999, and he thanked the Gardaí for their quick response.
“Garda cars came from Port station and from Edenderry, in case they could spot the truck. They were very helpful,” he said.
“If anyone sees it please contact us. It’s a sad story when you are on charitable work and this happens,” he said.
He said the truck has been used on many charity events held by Portarlington Lions Club, including their annual hunt, and the family funday, while the owner, a carpenter and a sales rep, needs it for his job.
“This member has always been very supportive to me, for any event we are holding. His work phone was left in the front of the van, I feel very sorry for him, he will miss his van,” he said.
The thief was described as being about thirty years of age, with a goatee beard, possible ginger, and was wearing a woolly hat.
The truck has grey seats, and the open pickup contained a spade, brush, and one of the posters.
There was very little diesel left in the truck, so someone may have noticed it at a nearby service station.
The Gardaí are conducting an investigation into the robbery, but as of yesterday, Monday, had not yet located the pickup truck.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Portarlington Gardaí at 057 8623112, Portlaoise Gardaí at 057 8674100, or Willie Murphy at 087 2984949