UPDATE: Poppy appeal theft from Chichester church

A CHICHESTER church has said it will not let the theft of cash from its poppy appeal collection intimidate it into closing its doors to the public.

Police are appealing for witnesses after money was taken from a cash till and a Royal British Legion collection box at St Paul’s Church, in Churchside, Chichester, on Sunday (November 4).

Speaking after the theft, Ray Carter, appeal co-ordinator for Chichester, said: “I think the knee-jerk reaction on hearing the news of the break in at St Paul’s and the theft of donations from a poppy appeal tin is one of outrage that we have in our society individuals who would stoop so low.

“We must be thankful to St Paul’s church community for their charity and concentrate on the praiseworthy members of our society.

“The national appeal does insure against such losses and St Paul’s congregation should be reassured that their contribution has not been lost.

“The generosity by Chichester to this year’s appeal has been overwhelming, and I would ask all those enraged by this theft to show their condemnation of a minority in our society by attending the city act of remembrance this Sunday in Litten Gardens.”

Rev Simon Holland said the amount taken had been the donation from the morning’s service. The theft took place sometime between 12pm and 5.30pm, and it was discovered as preparations began for the evening service.

The church is left open during the day for members of the public, but the side office containing the money was broken into.

Rev Holland added: “We like to keep the church open, but obviously they broke through from the church into a locked area.

“I think it’s really important for churches to be kept open, and be there for people who need quiet places and go to pray.

“It’s always very upsetting if you get money for something like the poppy appeal stolen in this way, but we don’t know the circumstances of the people that did it.

“We don’t want to be intimidated by this.

“The police have been very helpful and thorough in their queries and it’s a question of being as prudent as we can.

“That money’s been given to help victims of wars and conflicts and it’s upsetting to think that people do that sort of thing.”

Anyone who may have seen anything is asked to call the police on 101, quoting reference number 0303 05/11/12.