MORE THAN 15 priceless and irreplaceable items made of solid silver and some over 100 years old have been stolen from a Droitwich church.
The thieves struck at St Andrews Church in the town centre on Tuesday afternoon, forcing open a cabinet and removing the items from their leather cases before making off with them.
Churchwarden Keith Slaughter said: “Naturally we are devastated at the loss, but also very sad that someone has betrayed our trust when we have fought to keep the church open for the public every day of the week.
“We can’t believe someone would do this.”
He said the church was really struggling financially at the moment and this was the last thing it needed.
“The Grade I listed building is desperately in need of repairs to both the roof which is leaking badly following the theft of lead and the plaster ceiling which is deteriorating rapidly, however we intend to continue to welcome everyone whilst the church is still standing.”
Despite the theft Mr Slaughter vowed to continue to keep the church open everyday, as it has been from 9am to 4pm, for the last four years.
“We will not be throwing in the towel but will fight for this wonderful building which has stood on the corner of the High Street for over 800 years.
“The church has always been there for the community and we want it to stay that way.”
On the theft he said: “It is not like they have come in and taken the items off a shelf, they have been meticulously removed from their storage boxes and taken away.”
He added because of the number of items taken he felt there must have been more than one person carrying out the theft.
Other items taken included a number of guitar pedals by Rev Nigel Byard which were worth more than £500.
Sgt Sarah Kent from Droitwich Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) said: “It is difficult for churches as they are open by their very nature.
“The items stolen are unique.
“We can’t put a price on how much they were worth because the church would never have sold them so they have not been valued in that way.
“But this was one of the largest hauls of valuables ever taken in the area.”
She urged all churches in the area to review their security and urged people living around churches to be vigilant and watch out for suspicious behaviour.
Witnesses or anyone with any information on the theft should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.