December 13 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 24, 2013
A succession of church break-ins throughout east Suffolk over recent weeks has prompted fears they are being targeted for cash.
No fewer than five attempted thefts have been reported at churches around Framlingham, Leiston, and Knodishall since September, with the most recent taking place last weekend at St Peter’s in Yoxford.
Church leaders have condemned the break-ins and called on neighbouring residents to remain vigilant against further attempts.
“It’s always disappointing when churches are targeted by criminals as it affects both the church and the community who use the building,” said a spokesman for the church in Suffolk.
“All crime is distressing, of whatever nature, but it’s particularly poignant when criminals target a church at the heart of the community.”
The warden at St Margaret’s Church in Leiston, which thieves attempted to enter twice over one weekend in September, said the community has been “angered and worried” by the attacks.
“We were very worried,” said Shirley Newman. “We are having to lock away all the brass and everything that normally we left out.
“We’ve put CCTV in place and smart watered everything and put notices up explaining that no money is left in the building overnight.”
At St Margaret’s, as with St Peter’s in Yoxford and St Michael’s in Framlingham, the thieves left empty handed. However the criminal damage caused to the antique door of a 14th Century tower has left the church with costly repair bills.
“It’s a nuisance and it pushes our insurance premiums up,” said the Rev Christine Redgrave, of the Deanery of Saxmundham.
At Knodishall, as well as the damage caused, cash, two bottles of wine and two chalices were taken.
A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “Sadly there are individuals who will target churches and we would ask all parishioners to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour. We would urge anyone who thinks a crime may be in progress to call police immediately using 999 as officers would rather attend and find there is an innocent explanation than miss the opportunity to catch burglars in the act.”