Warning after church crimes

CHURCH wardens and priests are being warned to be on their guard today after a string of burglaries at churches in south Suffolk.Parish churches in the Hadleigh and Sudbury areas have been targeted by thieves who are stealing anything of value they can find.

CHURCH wardens and priests are being warned to be on their guard today after a string of burglaries at churches in south Suffolk.

Parish churches in the Hadleigh and Sudbury areas have been targeted by thieves who are stealing anything of value they can find.

In the past three-and-a-half weeks, seven churches have been raided with everything from candlesticks to tapestries stolen.

Nick Clarke, spokesman for the Diocese of Ipswich and St Edmundsbury, said: “It is always disappointing when these sorts of break-ins happen.

“Churches are often open in day-light hours to offer a quiet space for people to come and use.

“Our advice to all parishes is to lock anything valuable away.

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“It is upsetting when the trust that a church is offering is broken and people take advantage of that.

“Quite often it is not the cost of what is stolen, it is the cost of repairing the damage.”

Police in south Suffolk are urging people living in parishes to keep a watchful eye on their village church and report any suspicious activity.

Previous spates of attacks on churches have been reported including in Norfolk last week and thefts and vandalism of nine Suffolk churches in 2004.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “Community police officers are speaking with church wardens and priests around the areas, discussing how they can improve security.

“Collection boxes should be emptied on a daily basis and anything of value should be stored away.”

The thieves have either entered churches via unlocked doors or broken in buy forcing doors and windows.

On several occasions they have searched the buildings and taken nothing while on other occasions they have stolen cash boxes containing only minimal cash.

Anyone with information about the burglaries should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Panel - churches which have been targeted.

N St Peters and St Pauls Church, Lavenham: Between Friday, January 13 and Monday, January 16, the church was entered and a moneybox was tampered with but not entered.

A wall tapestry measuring 2ft by 18ft, with a medieval design depicting a man blowing into bagpipes was stolen.

N Long Melford Church, Church Walk, Long Melford: Between 3pm on Friday, January 20 and 1.30pm on Sunday, January 22 the church was entered and a quantity of cash was taken from a cashbox. Church Break In

N St Lawrence Church,The Street, Great Waldingfield: Between 11.30am on Sunday, January 29 and 11.30am on Tuesday, January 31 the church was broken into and the vestry was searched.

It does not appear that anything was taken.

N Milden Church, Church Road, Milden: Between 4pm on Saturday, January 28 and noon on Wednesday, February 3 the church was entered, a collection box was forced open and a small quantity of cash was stolen from within.

N Christchurch United Reform Church in School Street, Sudbury: Between 1pm on Saturday, February 4 and 9.40am the following day, the church was entered via an insecure window.

The church was searched but nothing was taken.

N The Baptist Church, Church Street, Sudbury: Between 1pm on Saturday, February 4 and 9.40am the following day, the church was into via a door. It was searched but nothing was taken.

N Our Lady and Saint John's Catholic Church, The Croft, Sudbury: Between noon and 11.30pm on Monday, February 6 living and office accommodation attached to the church was broken into.

A 3ft wrought iron candle stand, cash box containing a small quantity of cash and a mobile phone were stolen. Church Break Ins * Sudbury

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