Historic Felixstowe church raided

BURGLARS smashed two windows and stole electrical equipment in a raid on one of Suffolk's oldest churches.Police today issued an appeal for witnesses to track down the thieves after the break-in at St Peter and St Paul in Church Road, Old Felixstowe.

BURGLARS smashed two windows and stole electrical equipment in a raid on one of Suffolk's oldest churches.

Police today issued an appeal for witnesses to track down the thieves after the break-in at St Peter and St Paul in Church Road, Old Felixstowe.

The thieves smashed a window with leaded lights round the back of The Link - a modern extension to the church, parts of which are 800 years old - and climbed inside.

They stole a video player but found the entrance into the main part of the church locked and so retraced their steps.

Once outside again they broke a stained glass window dedicated to the Girl Guides in a transept, again in an area hidden from public view, pulled away the lead and glass, leaving a hole large enough for someone to climb in. They then stole the 16-channel Spirit FX mixing desk from the church sound system.

The raid is the latest in a long line on churches across Suffolk over the past few years, though it is not believed to be connected with others.

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Last year a stained glass window worth £3,000 was smashed at St Mary's Church, Walton, Felixstowe, and two choir robes were stolen from the vestry.

In many of the churches though thieves have been after historical artefacts such as antique chairs, or brass candlestick holders and other similar items.

A police spokeswoman said the break-in at St Peter and St Paul happened at between 10am on Wednesday January 28 and 3pm on Thursday January 29.

They have appealed for anyone seen carrying the video or mixing desk in the area, or has been similar items to contact them.

"A crime reduction officer will liaise with the church officials to undertake a review of security and to see what extra measures can be put in place," said the police spokeswoman.

"We would appeal to people to keep their eyes and ears open around churches and to report any suspicious characters they see lurking around - in this case someone may not only have seen the people concerned in the area but possibly heard breaking glass. Any information would help the investigation."

Anyone with information is asked to call PC Sarah Primmer at Felixstowe on 01473 613500.

The number of burglaries from churches - including walk-in ones during daylight hours when buildings have been open for prayer or tourists - has left many church leaders with a dilemma.

The diocese supports churches being open during daylight hours to offer a place of sanctuary in a busy world and does not discourage them from having open doors.

But it is also a problem to increase security for those times when the buildings are locked as many are isolated, surrounded by graveyards, and protecting stained glass windows with bars or other measures can disfigure them.

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