A vicar says a spate of church thefts in the Dales is “highly distressing” – after priceless 250-year-old silverware was taken from his place of worship.
Canon David Truby said he was “appalled” after discovering that thieves had taken items from a locked safe in the vestry of St Mary’s Church, in Wirksworth, on April 28.
The incident occurred on the same night that £20,000 worth of lead was stolen from Bradley All Saints Church, in Ashbourne.
Police have now asked residents in the Dales to be on the look-out for suspicious activity around churches.
Canon Truby said: “The fact that thieves appear to be targeting churches is highly distressing. But, sadly, it’s not surprising.
“What thieves don’t realise is that stealing from churches is taking a piece of heritage, a piece of history.
“Some of the silverware that was taken from our church was over 200-years-old.
“Taking valuable items not only robs this heritage – it also robs the community.”
Canon Truby, who has served the Wirksworth Team Ministry for nearly 12 years, said that the two recent thefts follow similar incidents in Idridgehay and Carsington.
“I believe that it will be one person who is responsible for these thefts,” he said.
“And I would urge people to keep a look-out for any suspicious activity around churches and report it to police.”
Canon Turby said that there had been one man who had visited the church on a number of occasions.
He said: “With hindsight, it’s possible that this gentleman was posing as a tourist to scope the church out for a burglary.”
PCSO Ian Phipps said: “We are asking local residents to be mindful of anyone acting suspiciously around their community church.
“Residents are being encouraged to report anything that seems untoward to us so that we can help to stop a crime from happening.”
The Wirksworth theft occurred between midnight on Monday, April 27 and midnight on Tuesday, April 28,
The Ashbourne theft occurred sometime between 5.15pm on Tuesday, April 28 and 8.30am on Wednesday, April 29.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101.