THIEVES have caused thousands of pounds’ worth of damage by breaking into a Cornish church, where they stole less than £30 from a collection box.
The intruders shattered a stained-glass window depicting Moses to get into St Petroc’s, Bodmin, in Cornwall. They damaged decorations and a carving of an angel on a Victorian reredos, before smashing a glass carboy to steal the small-change donations inside.
The Priest-in-Charge of the Grade I listed medieval church, Canon Graham Minors, put the total bill at about £10,000. He said this week: “In a way, you are between a rock and a hard place: you face the dilemma of having an open church, which gets robbed of relatively small amounts, or trying to protect it, and face huge repair bills if they force their way in.
“It would be easier to leave the church open and let them get in to steal the small stuff; but if you do that, the insurers are not happy.
“There is also a lengthy process involved in putting it right. In this case, the likes of English Heritage, the Victorian Society, and so on will all want a say in how it should be restored. It will take at least six to nine months to go through the process. A previous one took 18 months.”
Canon Minors, who retires next month, continued: “I find it very difficult. If you think back maybe 50 years: the thought of damaging a church was absolutely taboo. It just would not have happened. But now it seems that it is almost open season. However, the community has rallied round with donations.”
Inspector Robin Hogg, of Devon and Cornwall Police, condemned the thieves. “The financial impact of recovery and repair will be measured in the thousands of pounds. . . The effect on the parishioners and users of the church is far greater.
“I am incredibly disappointed that not only have some members of society chosen to commit a criminal act against a place of worship, shelter, and comfort in the town, but to do so in such a destructive and disrespectful way leaves me saddened and shocked.’’
He was optimistic about catching the culprits. Blood found on the broken window has been sent for DNA testing. He warned them: “We will soon be able to identify you. Anything other than handing yourself in will not only show further contempt for the victims, but will be mentioned on any court processes thereafter.’’
A 30-year-old man from Bodmin was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of burglary and was placed in custody in Launceston.
Anyone with information should phone the police on 101, and quote Log 990 18/08/15.