BURGLARS smashed their way into a church and stole valuables – including a communion chalice – in the latest of a string of raids on churches.
St Andrew’s Church, on Hayling Island, was targeted on Wednesday and money, a television and a safe were taken.
There have been three other incidents this week where nearby churches have been broken into, but little or nothing taken.
The Archdeacon of Portsdown, which covers Portsmouth and Havant, the Ven Joanne Grenfell, said: ‘We have made all our parishes aware of these break-ins and suggested some extra security measures they may wish to take.
‘It is sad that churches appear to be a target for these break-ins. Most churches don’t have anything particularly valuable or that it would be worth stealing.
‘So these people are going to great lengths to get into the building for little reason.
‘Of course the damage caused is upsetting for those who worship in our churches and live locally. We’re doing all we can to help them as they think about insurance and repairs, and we’re praying for all those involved.’
The first incident was at Holy Trinity Church, Blendworth, on Bank Holiday Monday. The burglars turned off the electrics to disable the burglar alarm and used a crowbar or something similar to force their way through a back door.
They forced open the outer door and an inner door, causing damage to the doors and surrounding stonework, before getting into the vestry.
Although they appeared to have searched the vestry, they escaped only with some keys.
The following evening there was another attempt to break into Holy Trinity Church.
‘This time the back door had been secured with a large wooden strut and they were unable to get in, although more damage was caused.
On Monday night, there was an attempted break-in at All Saints Church, East Meon and although they didn’t get in they caused a lot of damage.
Clergy and churchwardens across Portsmouth’s Church of England diocese have been advised to review the security arrangements on their church buildings, to warn those who live near their churches about the incidents, and to put up notices – if they aren’t already there – warning potential burglars that valuables aren’t kept in the church.
Anyone with information should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.