Daylight thieves steal church collection cash and relics

Stolen silverware from Devon churches

Stolen silverware from Devon churches - Credit: Archant

“DESPICABLE” thieves made off with collection money and irreplaceable relics when they targeted St Michael’s Church in Otterton in broad daylight.

Stolen silverware from Devon churches

Stolen silverware from Devon churches - Credit: Archant

Detectives have asked for the public’s help in catching the criminals whose haul included donations intended for needy families and silverware including a circular box, two chalices and a pair of paten dishes.

The offence took place between Sunday, January 20, and Thursday, January 24 and police believe it may be connected to a similar theft in East Budleigh.

Detective Constable Blain Bishop, of Exmouth CID, said those responsible walked into Otterton’s church during the day when it was unlocked and stole items from the vestry.

“This is a despicable crime that has affected a small and close-knit community,” he told the Herald.

“These items are old and irreplaceable. A crime of this type is unusual and quite rare - Otterton is a low crime area.”

Det Con Bishop added that culprits might attempt to sell the loot and added: “You would hope that if the culprits do try to get rid of the items, someone would immediately recognise them as church silverware.

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“And if that happens I would urge them to contact us immediately.”

The Reverend Anne Charlton thought the theft of silverware was less important than the collection money that was taken.

She said: “As churches here in the Raleigh Mission Community, we support the needy both through food banks, and through donations where we can, so if the people or person concerned had been in genuine need of money we would have helped them if they had just asked.

“We feel it is important to keep our churches open as places of prayer for all to come and visit, and we have no intention of stopping doing this.”

A milkchurn containing collection money was also stolen from All Saints Church, in East Budleigh, between Tuesday, January 15, and Wednesday, January 16.

Anyone with information on the Otterton Crime can contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111, quoting reference: KE/13/167.

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