'Despicable' thieves raid churches

Four churches in mid-Norfolk were broken into at the weekend leaving an ancient stained glass window smashed in and a charity box stolen. Churches at Elsing, Swanton Morley, Shipdham and Necton were all targeted between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Four churches in mid-Norfolk were broken into at the weekend leaving an ancient stained glass window smashed in and a charity box stolen.

Churches at Elsing, Swanton Morley, Shipdham and Necton were all targeted between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Police said they are treating all four together and that the break-ins were “despicable acts”.

The worst hit was at Necton's Norman All Saints Church where an old stained glass window had a two foot by two-foot hole smashed in it, part of a glass an interior door smashed and writing daubed on the parish room walls.


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The thieves also broke into the parish room and the kitchen where they took a knife which they used to try and prise open a metal cabinet.

Although little was taken the damage caused will mean now more money needs to be raised to pay for repairs.

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All Saints had just been decorated by church members for Christmas.

It is the second time the church has been burgled in three months - the last time an ancient wooden screen to the church's historic Mason Room, containing a monument related to the architect Pugin, was broken.

Diana Daniels, church warden, said: “We had just decorated the church for Christmas. People are very upset about it. It is a beautiful window and it has wasted people's time today.

“I'm very upset this is happening, it is another bit of the church that has been damaged.

“There is nothing to take here. We do not have anything of any value to make breaking in worthwhile to anyone.”

Specialist workers will be needed to repair the damage and it is not yet known how much it will cost.

Shipdham's All Saints Church was broken into through a side window. An interior door was also broken through but no other damage was caused and nothing was taken.

Grade I listed All Saints Church at Swanton Morley had a laminated window broken and a small amount of cash taken from a collection box.

St Mary's Church at Elsing also had a window smashed but nothing appeared to have been taken.

Sgt Terry Scott of the Dereham Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “These really are despicable acts that will leave the communities wondering who would do such a thing, especially at the very time of year when most people are looking to their churches to provide them with a focal point for the Christmas period.

“We would ask the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the Police, by working together we can help to keep our communities safe.”

Anyone with any information about the break-ins are asked to contact police on 0845 4564567 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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