July 26 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 27, 2014
A thief has been caught on camera smashing open a church collection box.
The man walked into St Andrew’s Church, in Abberton, near Colchester, and stole items.
He took a 47cm tall statuette of the Christ Child with the Virgin Mary and a bronze ship’s bell with the letters SMI engraved on it.
The thief then pulled a hammer from under his jacket and smashed open a small wall safe containing £30 donated by visitors to the church.
Essex Police have today released a CCTV recording showing the incident, at 2pm on Sunday February 23, in a renewed appeal to find the man.
Officers suspect the man shown is responsible for a series of church thefts across east Essex.
Churches in Stow Maries, Wickham Bishops, Goldhanger and Purleigh have all been targeted with statues, carvings and other items taken.
Extra police patrols are now being carried out around areas with small rural churches and members of the public should call 999 if they see any suspicious activity around churches.
Anyone who can identify the man in the CCTV footage, or if anyone is offered church items for sale in suspicious circumstances, should call Pc Shaun Hammond on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.