Barnham church targeted during spate of burglaries

Father Martin Powell, rector of the parish, said this week's incident makes it four in four weeks at St Mary's
Father Martin Powell, rector of the parish, said this week's incident makes it four in four weeks at St Mary's

‘There is a sense of outrage that this has happened to this holy place, but we pray for all those who feel they have no choice but to commit such crimes.’

That is the comment from Father Martin Powell, rector of the parish, after he said St Mary’s, Barnham, was subjected to its fourth break-in in just four weeks on Monday.

“The targeted break-ins have focused on the vestry and the unused wall safe and have mostly been undertaken in broad daylight,” he added. “It is appalling that this beautiful place of prayer has been targeted in this way.”

Describing the incidents, which he said occured on May 20 and June 5, 14 and 18, as ‘needless vandalism’, Martin added: “It has been very shocking to church members, and the wider parish, this has happened on such a scale.”

Gardening equipment is among the items taken during the ‘minor thefts’, which have also seen windows smashed and a church wall safe damaged.

Martin said St Mary’s is not alone either, reporting that property at St Mary, Aldingbourne, has been broken into and that other churches targeted include Binstead, Yapton and Birdham.

“Thankfully nothing of value has been taken from the church – indeed nothing of material value is stored in the church – and so the loss is minimal,” he said.

“The damage to this ancient and historic church is another matter as the parish has had to invest in additional security to deter further attempts at break in. The extra expense this has incurred only prevents our aim of serving this community more fully, by diverting money from our plans to install toilets and running water to the church.”

Adding his thanks to the police for its assistance, Martin said all local churches are being extra vigilant and appealed for public help.

A spokesman for Sussex Police asked anyone with information to report it via sussex.police.uk quoting serial number 833 of 20/5.