‘Santa Stop Here,’ says the sign outside Laytown Garda Station.
And he did for ‘Accordion Man’ Ken Hopkins, 64, when gardaí returned 12 vintage accordions stolen from him in August.
More than 30 of the rare and ornately decorated musical instruments were stolen from his home in Comber, Co Down.
Some of the accordions returned to him yesterday at Meath Garda Station appear to have minor damage to the keys or buttons, but all are repairable — work Ken will do himself.
He is known throughout Europe as the Accordion Man for his love of restoring and collecting them and some of those stolen were one of a kind.
He was duped into leaving his house in August in the belief he was going to meet two men who wanted to buy one.
They never appeared and he returned home to find 30 instruments had been stolen, some which were worth between £20,000 and £30,000 (€24,500 and €36,800).
The accordions recovered on Saturday was as a result of enquiries by gardaí from Dundalk and Laytown and they are the first to be recovered. They were found in a derelict area of Mornington, near the East Meath coast.
“It is a Christmas present for me,” said a delighted Ken who had suffered sleepless nights after the theft.
He believes his home was checked out “by a Dublin man who called about six months ago”.
Some of the returned accordions are rare because they have two keyboards. One is gold-plated. The oldest one is from about 1920.
“It is great to have them back but unfortunately some of them are damaged. I kept them all in top nick,” said Ken.
Accordion music is popular in Eastern Europe and Ken suspects some of the accordions had been stolen to be sold there.
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