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Preston church left facing £800 repair bill after 'casual' thief ransacked vestry

The man is seen on CCTV casually strolling through the church grounds in Preston moments before forcing his way inside

A Preston church has been left facing a huge repair bill after a brazen crook forced his way into the building before making off with just £10 from a collection box. A man, who is wearing a North Face sweatshirt, was captured on CCTV cameras casually strolling through the grounds of St Christopher’s church in Lea on March 13.

He then forces his way into the church before the Blackpool Road building is ransacked. During the daytime raid, several doors were kicked open and a key safe was damaged. Church bosses estimate the rampage could end up costing upwards of £800 in repairs.

Church warden Debra Foster said the damage would mean cash earmarked for other projects - including an appeal for new drainage - could have to be diverted. She added: “The sad thing is that if he needed £10 that badly, we as a church would have found a way to help him.”

This man was captured on CCTV and is later seen kicking his way into the church building

What happened at St Christopher’ church?

Parishioners discovered the break-in on Monday, March 13 and after reviewing the church’s extensive CCTV cameras picked up a suspect prowling through the ground. He is clearly seen strolling into the church grounds in broad daylight but then making his way to the side of the building. At one point, he covered his face with his jumper into a bid to evade being picked up by CCTV.

“He took off his jumper and wrapped it round his head but the cameras had already filmed him by this point,” said Debra, who also volunteers at a nearby foodbank. The church released parts of the CCTV footage on its Facebook page in a bid to help police catch the suspect, who they believe may have gone on to target nearby shops.

What was stolen during the break-in?

Police are now appealing for information over the break-in

Despite causing significant damage, including damage to the door leading to the vestry, the intruder left with just £10, which was taken from a collection box for the church’s drain repair appeal. Debra added: “This the first incident of this kind but we have had problems over the past two years with youths climbing onto the roof and thefts of steel from the roof.

“It’s such a shame because obviously we’ve been here a long time and before that we’ve never really had any problems. Really. It’s just said because there is obviously something wrong in this man’s life but it doesn’t excuse what he has done.”

Are police investigating?

The break-in has been reported to Lancashire Police who are now investigating. A force spokesman said: “It has been reported to us and is under investigation. Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 1182 of March 13.”

Damage to the church vestry door

It is believed a similar attempted break-in occurred at Fulwood Methodist church days before the raid in Lea. Local also say a man fitting a similar description is suspected of attempting to steal from the nearby Lea Stores on the same day.


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