Colchester churches raided twice

By Becky HallewellNEIGHBOURING churches in Colchester have been broken into for the second time within a few months, with sacred items stolen from one, worth hundreds of pounds.

By Becky Hallewell

NEIGHBOURING churches in Colchester have been broken into for the second time within a few months, with sacred items stolen from one, worth hundreds of pounds.

The Catholic church on Prince Philip Road, Monkwick, and the Orchard Baptist Church, Mersea Road, in neighbouring Blackheath were both found broken into on Monday morning.

Burglars broke in through a window of the Prince Philip Road church and removed a large safe containing three chalices. They left such a mess that initially brass candlesticks were also reported missing, but these were later found.


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Monsignor David Manson, Catholic priest of the parish, said: "We are obviously very distressed. For church-goers, having your church broken into is the same as having your home broken into.

"It's an invasion of something very important and precious. You have the same sense of invasion.

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"The chalices were bought by families in memory of people. They have no objective value but it is distressing for the families and for the community who have bought them."

He was convinced that burglars were looking for a key to the safe they stole and had caused the disarray hunting for it.

"A similar thing happened within the last couple of months when a very small quantity of cash was stolen," he said.

Nothing was stolen from the Orchard Baptist Church, despite the back door and the office door having been forced open and the drawers and cupboards searched.

George Balfour, minister at Wycliff Baptist Church and former minister at the church, said: "I am naturally sad. The church is funded by members' giving money. Any repairs have to come out of that. Somebody somewhere is going to have to pay. It's stressful.

"Two or three weeks ago a window was broken there. Nothing was stolen – there are no valuables there. And three or four years ago someone heaved a concrete block into the office.

"It's generally not opened. It's a vulnerable building and it's empty," he said.

Despite such repeated attacks on religious buildings, Monsignor Manson felt strongly that some churches, such as his parish church, should be available to the public most of the time.

"Churches should be open and we should take measures to ensure they are open. Certainly people with any religion or none can find space, time and peace for themselves. The Priory Street Catholic church is open every day during daylight."

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