Heart­break as church is ran­sacked for Poppy cash


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By KATIE BUT­LER katie.but­ler@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @KatieBut­lerMEN

HEART­LESS thieves broke into a church and stole Poppy Ap­peal cash just hours be­fore the re­mem­brance ser­vice took place.

The in­trud­ers ran­sacked the build­ing in Old­ham, also tak­ing money raised through can­dles and the church mag­a­zine. They even rum­maged through prizes for the Christ­mas raf­fle, steal­ing the most ex­pen­sive gifts.

It’s the sec­ond year run­ning that St Thomas’ Leesfield Church, in Lees, has been tar­geted. Last year, crooks stole the Christ­mas ham­per.

Dur­ing the lat­est break-in on Sat­ur­day night, a small part of a win­dow was del­i­cately cut out for the bur­glars to climb into the build­ing.

Roy Atkin­son, deputy war­den of the Grade II-listed build­ing, said it was ‘heart­break­ing.’

He said: “The place was ran­sacked when we got here on Sun­day morn­ing. Draw­ers and cup­boards had been pulled out so they could see if any­thing valu­able was here.

“They had got­ten in through the win­dow and have taken money for the Poppy Ap­peal, the can­dles and church mag­a­zine. There was quite a lot, I saw peo­ple putting notes in for the pop­pies last Sun­day.

“It’s around £100 in to­tal for all three of the do­na­tion boxes. It’s dis­gust­ing any­one could do that.

“We as a church will get the money to­gether to give to the Poppy Ap­peal as they shouldn’t have to lose out.

“They have also taken gifts that were for the Christ­mas fair this year.

“They did the same last year and took the Christ­mas ham­per. It’s really sad.”

The church has been a con­stant tar­get for thieves, with lead be­ing stolen in pre­vi­ous years re­sult­ing in a £40,000 bill for re­place­ments.

Roy added: “We have been try­ing to get se­cu­rity for so long but as the church is Grade II-listed, it means ev­ery­thing takes a lot longer to be able to sort out.

“But work was meant to start in the next few weeks.”

The new se­cu­rity will in­clude in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal CCTV as well as mo­tion sen­sor lights.

“It’s heart­break­ing we have to take these mea­sures, it really is,” Roy added.

A spokes­woman for GMP said: “Of­fi­cers were called to re­ports of a bur­glary at a church on West Street, Old­ham at 9.20am on Sun­day, 12th Novem­ber.

“The theft had hap­pened overnight and a small amount of money was taken from a char­ity box.”

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to con­tact Greater Manch­ester Po­lice on 101 or Crimestop­pers, anony­mously, on 0800 555 111.


For­mer coun­cil­lor and church war­den Va­lerie Sedg­wick out­side St Thomas’ Leesfield Church

St Thomas’ Leesfield Church

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