Shock as church thief poses as wor­ship­per

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

ASHAMELESS thief posed as a church­goer be­fore bur­gling the vestry dur­ing a Sun­day ser­vice.

He went to St Paul’s Church on Brook Street, Mac­cles­field, and waited in the pews un­til the vicar had started the wor­ship be­fore sneak­ing off.

Shocked staff at the his­toric church dis­cov­ered the bur­glary at the end of the ser­vice on March 5 and raised the alarm.

Po­lice have now launched a man­hunt for the bur­glar who is de­scribed as a man in his 30s or 40s, 5’7” tall and slim with black wavy, jawlength hair. He was wear­ing a black jacket and dark trousers.

Coun­cil­lors have re­acted with shock and anger to the crime.

Coun Philip Bolton, who rep­re­sents Mac­cles- field East ward on Mac­cles­field Town Coun­cil, said: “I am filled with to­tal shock and dis­gust that some­one would even think of go­ing into a church and steal­ing, let alone ac­tu­ally do it. It’s a stupid crime and com­pletely un­jus­ti­fi­able.

“St Paul’s is a lovely, friendly church doesn’t de­serve this.”

Coun Mick War­ren, who rep­re­sents Mac­cles­field East ward on Cheshire East Coun­cil, said the thief had ‘crossed the line’ in tar­get­ing a sa­cred place. He said: “It’s a cold and cal­cu­lated crime. He clearly weighed up the sit- and ua­tion and took his op­por­tu­nity. Peo­ple do desperate things some­times. Although no one got hurt and this is just a few mo­bile phones, churches are sa­cred places and he has crossed the line.”

Coun War­ren said the church had told him it was plan­ning to in­crease its se­cu­rity. Po­lice say the sus­pect was seen in­side the church be­fore the ser­vice at 11am be­fore go­ing out­side.

He was spot­ted at the back of the church as the ser­vice started then dis­ap­peared. Po­lice said there is no CCTV of the theft but are hop­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic saw the man out­side. The mo­bile phones be­longed to two men but it is not known if these were church staff or mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion. The church de­clined to com­ment.

Sgt Rob Simp­son said: “It is ap­palling that some­one has tar­geted a place of wor­ship to steal from.

“I would urge any­one who saw some­one of this de­scrip­tion hang­ing around the church to con­tact us. Also if you are of­fered a Sam­sung X7 or a Nexus 5 in un­usual cir­cum­stances please con­tact po­lice on 101 quot­ing in­ci­dent num­ber 428 of March 5.

The theft at St Paul’s Church in Mac­cles­field has dis­gusted Coun Philip Bolton (right)

Lisa and Steve Bellerby with Dr David Wright at the bed­side of lit­tle Sam

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