The first few days of August saw a spate of seven crimes against places of worship in Worthing. Thieves forced their way into five church buildings, a Friends meeting house and a priest’s house in less than a week to steal cash and computers.
St John the Divine church hall in Ripley Road was targeted first with a kitchen window smashed to gain entry between 8.00 pm on August 1st and 9.30am on August 2nd. The thieves broke into cupboards taking a black metal box containing a small amount of cash.
At around the same time offenders broke into the priest’s house in Gratwicke Road, attached to St Mary of the Angels church. They smashed a window and stole three laptops, a Toshiba notebook, speakers and two hard drives.
On August 3rd visitors to the Friends Meeting House in Mill Road discovered the building had been broken into. The intruders forced open a door inside and ripped a small safe containing keys off the wall. They stole the safe and a wooden collecting box.
Late on August 2nd or early on August 3rd thieves threw bricks through two windows at Offington Park Methodist Church in South Farm Road to get inside but left empty handed.
At about 3.00 pm on August 3rd offenders kicked in the door of St Mary of the Angels Church in Richmond Road, broke into the shop inside and stole up to £30 from the till.
On August 5th it was discovered thieves had thrown a brick through a window at St John the Divine church hall again but this time they did not get into the building.
The seventh offence happened at St Stephen’s Church in Angola Road between 8.00 pm on August 5th and 10.45 am on August 7th. The intruders forced their way into a ground floor window in the church office and stole an iPad and £160.
Sussex Police has launched Operation Magpie to tackle burglary across the county.
Sergeant Craig Burgess said: “In each case the offenders have used bricks or brute force to smash their way into the religious buildings and while they have not escaped with much in some of the burglaries, they have caused great upset.
“The thieves have thought nothing of committing crimes on sacred ground and appear to have deliberately targeted buildings they believed would be easy targets – no matter the pain or suffering they caused to their victims.
“The buildings were all in residential areas and I would appeal to anyone who lives near them to contact us if they saw or heard anything suspicious at the time.”
Anyone with information about any of the burglaries should call 101 quoting serial 603 of August 7th or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.