A CHURCH blighted by metal thefts has been targeted for the fourth time in a year.
The most recent raid at Christ Church, on Meadows Avenue, Thornton, involved 60 brass inserts and the tops of flowerholders being stolen from gravestones.
More than £5,000 of metal has been taken from the church since last May, including copper being stolen from the church roof on three occasions.
This has led to the congregation spending thousands of pounds on extra security and repairs to ensure the church does not flood when it rains.
Churchwarden David Grigg, who has worked for the church since 1956, said: “I’ve been at this church quite a while and it’s very upsetting.
“I think the church is in a nice, quiet place, but thefts are going on all over the country and a lot of churches have been hit.
“The people who do this have no compassion at all and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Mr Grigg says the church is now mindful of more thefts, so has moved to replace all its copper with a non-metal substitute.
He added: “We have managed to get the roofing replaced but we are in the process of making another two claims on the insurance.
“After the second lot of copper we spent £2,000 putting cameras up around the church and when the second lot went missing we saw the thief, but nothing could be done.
“It will cost the church just under £5,000 to replace the whole lot, but we will have to replace it with special material which isn’t copper.
“Hopefully the CCTV cameras we installed will continue to put people off because the thieves haven’t been back since.”
Police believe the ornaments were stolen from the graveyard for their scrap metal value some time between Monday, April 23 and Monday, April 30.
PC Ian Hill said: “This is a despicable act with every theft impacting on a different family.
“I would appeal to anybody that witnessed any suspicious activity in or around the churchyard last month or with any information that could assist with our investigation to get in touch.
“I would also appeal directly to scrap metal dealers in the area that may have come across these items to get in touch. Anyone with any information about this offence should contact myself or PCSO Gill Mason on (01253) 828597 or Lancashire Police on 101.”
People with information can also contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or on-line at Crimestoppers-uk.org