Framlingham: Vicar defiant after spate of church crimes

A DEFIANT vicar whose church has been targeted by petty criminals last night vowed to continue to keep it open 365 days a year so it can be enjoyed by visitors.

There have been a spate of incidents at St Michael’s Church in Framlingham in recent months - including one where a firework was let off inside the historic building.

The crimes, which also include a number of thefts, prompted a short closure last week to help police carry out their investigations.

But last night Rev Graham Owen said it was now “business as usual”.

“It has been going on for several months,” he said. “It’s very sad.

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“Its strange things being stolen. For example earlier this month we had lighters taken that we use to light our candles, or just before Christmas we had six bottles of wine stolen that we were going to use for mulled wine.

“Earlier this month fire extinguishers were let off in the church, making a terrible mess everywhere. Some marvellous crib figures have also been damaged.

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“It’s that sort of thing that has been going on and on and it’s been getting on our nerves.

“In November - just before bonfire night - someone let off a firework in the church. I went in and I thought, ‘that’s an odd smell’. There is was, lying on the ground, a rocket. If that had got lodged in the roof then we wouldn’t have had a church left.”

Mr Owen said they were now looking at ways to improve security.

“We closed the church while the police carried out their investigations,” he continued. “We try to keep it open 365 days a year so people can come in and have a look around. It’s amazing the number who do just pop in. We are resolved to keep the church open.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said they were aware of a number of incidents at the church and that officers from the Framlingham and Saxmundham Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) were investigating.

She said patrols were also being stepped up in the area.

The most recent incident happened on Sunday, January 23 when fire extinguishers were let off in the church, while on Tuesday, January 11, lighters were stolen.

Anyone with information about any of the incidents can call Framlingham and Saxmundham SNT on 01473 613500.

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