Sorry saga of church crime

IPSWICH: Churches and places of worship in the town were targeted by criminals on 25 occasions in a year, shock figures reveal today.

Colin Adwent

IPSWICH: Churches and places of worship in the town were targeted by criminals on 25 occasions in a year, shock figures reveal today.

Vandals, thieves and arsonists were responsible for more than 200 crimes across Suffolk between December 1, 2008 and November 30, 2009.

There were 99 offences of criminal damage among the 220 incidents, according to Suffolk police statistics.

Twenty-five of the crimes took place at Ipswich churches, graveyards or car parks, with four in Felixstowe. The others were scattered around the county.

Andrew Dotchin, rector of the parish of Whitton with Thurleston and Akenham, said it was desperately sad when churches are targeted.

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He said: “It's extremely heartbreaking. When it happens, the consequences are that stuff has to be replaced and it puts a drain on the congregation. All churches are maintained by the people who worship there.

“People don't realise if they break a church door it is more valuable than the money in a collection box.”

Vestry doors were vandalised along with valuable stained glass church windows of historical significance and a charity box.

There were also 97 thefts and burglaries during the same year, along with three arsons. Harassment and violence accounted for 17 more incidents and there was even a report of a sex offence in one case.

Ruth Lincoln, one of two church wardens at St Peter's Church Copdock with Washbrook , which was targeted last month by thieves said she was appalled anyone could commit a crime at a church.

She said: “What sort of people are going to destroy something that no one else has touched or damaged in hundreds of years. It's terrible.

“They are either really high on drugs or there's no word to does something like that.”

What do you think of criminals who target churches? E-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or write to Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN>

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