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Forgiveness offered to church vandals

PUBLISHED: 15:17 16 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

YOBS hell-bent on causing mindless destruction to east Ipswich churches have been offered an olive branch by one of the vicars affected.

A number of churches in the area have been hit by a two-month vandalism spree and Landseer Road Methodist Church is one of the places of worship that has been targeted.

YOBS hell-bent on causing mindless destruction to east Ipswich churches have been offered an olive branch by one of the vicars affected.

A number of churches in the area have been hit by a two-month vandalism spree and Landseer Road Methodist Church is one of the places of worship that has been targeted.

It has suffered a break-in and smashed windows over recent weeks. The latest incident happened this week when around £50 worth of damage was caused by a stone being thrown through a window.

But the Rev David Shawcross today promised to forgive the culprits and invited them to join the church groups.

"They are people with particular needs and they are probably trying to make their mark on society and this has been the only way they have managed it," he said.

"I would not only forgive them but I would encourage them to come along and join us at some of the church groups."

Police today promised to take action to curb the problem.

Insp Andy Solomon, of Suffolk Police, said: "There have been several incidents over the past few weeks where damage has been caused to churches on the east side of town.

"Being buildings which are for all of the community to visit and use, these acts of crime will not be tolerated."

Rev Shawcross said the problem had escalated to the point where the church was being targeted by vandals on an almost daily basis.

"We have a playgroup at the church each morning and the playgroup leader is normally the one who discovers these things," he said.

Other churches have also been affected, including St Batholomew's Church, in Newton Road, the Baptist Church, in Nansen Road, All Hallows Church, in Landseer Road, and the Alan Road Methodist Church.

"It's an annoyance and a grievance that we don't need," said Rev Shawcross, who is also responsible for the Alan Road Methodist Church.

"I don't think the people who do it realise the problems it causes - they're probably doing it for a bit of fun.

"There are so many small incidents that they become very large because we're having to pay the insurance excess each time."

Insp Andy Solomon today promised to increase patrols around churches to try and curb the problem.

"I don't think it's people who've got something against religion or people of the cloth," he said.

"These are places where young people tend to congregate in evenings and it could be that because they've had success in breaking one window, they've gone back because they've got nothing better to do."

He added it was possible some of the crimes could be related.

Anyone with any information about these incidents is asked to call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111.

WEBLINK

www.suffolkchurches.co.uk

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