Plymouth church left shocked as sacred items stolen
A VICAR has been left shocked after burglars smashed their way into his church – and made off with candlesticks and donation money for remembrance candles.
Father David Bailey, who ministers at St Francis of Assisi church in Honicknowle returned to the small community church on Thursday night to find the thieves had broken by hurling a rock through a kitchen window.
It is the second time the church has been targeted by thieves in recent months.
Glass was left strewn across the kitchen floor of the Little Dock Lane church, but he was stunned to find the thieves had gone to the main part of the church.
From there, they had taken four brass candlestick holders from the altar, along with four further candleholders from different parts of the chancel.
By the vestry, the thieves had spilled a box of small candles used by parishioners to light in remembrance of others.
The candles appear to have been casually strewn on the carpet after the crooks broke open a small collection box which held 10p donations for each small candle.
A large cross bearing a small figurine of Christ was also found moved into a downstairs room attached to the kitchen, as if about to be taken out of the broken window.
Father Bailey said both his office and sacristy rooms had been broken into as well.
"I'm shocked," he said. "A few months again we had some lead stripped off the roof and earlier in the year I had my house broken into while I was there.
"The parishioners will be shocked and angry I expect, and dismayed, and possibly afraid.
"I would like them [the burglars] not to have done it, and to not do it again.
"I hope they could find some other way to support themselves.
"If they are in desperate need one of the things that the church does is help people in need.
"But robbing the church they're, in a way, robbing the community and in a sense, robbing themselves.
"We recognise that there's a lot of deprivation in Honicknowle. People become desperate and I can understand that people do desperate things, things they wouldn't normally do.
"But at the same time, if people start robbing churches then nothing is sacred and the whole community suffers."
Lead investigator, Detective Constable Jason Bryant, said a neighbour's security light came on unexpectedly at around 5.45am on Thursday.
Lights inside the church were seen, although the burglary was not reported until around 8pm, when Father Bailey arrived.
He urged people to come forward if they know where the eight candlestick holders are.
Father Bailey added: "They are mainly brass and not financially very valuable, but they are sacred items and what they represent to the parishioners is invaluable.
"It is a horrendous crime because it will cause a lot of anger and upset in the community. The building has a lot of history and is a place local people go to worship and feel safe.
"It's extremely sad that someone has broken in to steal such items."
If you have any information about the incident contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 quoting crime reference number EL/12/4611.
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