Independent councillor Frankie Daly, who was deputising for Limerick City’s mayor over the weekend, left the chain of office in his car overnight ahead of an event.
He was left reeling after discovering the gold and silver insignia had been stolen from the car parked outside his home in Corbally, Limerick City.
He has formally reported the theft to gardaí at Henry Street Garda Station.
His car — a 2003 Toyota Avensis — has been sent for forensic examination. Gardaí are appealing for the safe return of the chain.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Mr Daly. “My heart sank into my boots when I realised it had gone. I was in total shock. This chain belongs to the people. It’s an attack on the people of Limerick.”
Metropolitan mayor Seán Lynch, a former detective garda, called the theft an “act of desperation” so close to Christmas.
Mr Daly said he believes his car key was cloned, as his vehicle did not appear to have had any damage done to it. A number of other items were also taken from the car, including Christmas presents given to his wife Kate, and their seven-year-old son Joshua’s passport.
The chain was commissioned for the merger of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council in 2014 and was originally worn by the new authority’s first leader, Kevin Sheahan.
In recent times, a much older traditional chain of office has been preferred by the mayor, with the more modern chain donned by his deputies.
Mr Daly added: “Not only did it have monetary value, it had a lot of symbolism as it was commissioned for the two councils coming together.
“There is gold and silver on this chain. It’s quite big and chunky.”
The former Labour councillor said he had planned to wear the chain when presenting a set of jerseys, which he had sponsored, to the Our Lady of Lourdes soccer team on Monday before the theft happened in the early hours of the morning.
“I’m very disappointed this would happen in a quiet neighbourhood, that Limerick people would try and profit from stealing from other’s property,” he said.
Mr Lynch appealed for the safe return of the chain and warned people against leaving items in cars overnight.
“You’d always have an element who would be opportunist,” he said. “Be mindful of the time of year it is now. People are desperate for cash, so be careful of leaving things exposed.”
It is the second time a mayoral chain has been stolen in Limerick — thieves took the ancient mayoral chain in Kieran O’Hanlon’s first term in office in 1996, but it was recovered.
A Garda spokesperson said officers in Mayorstone Park are investigating the theft of “several items” from a car parked in the Irish Estates at Corbally. They can be contacted at 061 456980.