‘Despicable’ thieves steal memorial bench

Pic of churchwarden Mrs Phyl Pennell outside the church where 'despicable' thieves have stolen a memorial bench. Pic Steve Robards   SR1627719 SUS-160919-192500001

Pic of churchwarden Mrs Phyl Pennell outside the church where 'despicable' thieves have stolen a memorial bench. Pic Steve Robards SR1627719 SUS-160919-192500001

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Thieves who stole a memorial bench from outside a church have been branded ‘mean and despicable.’

The three-seater wooden bench was stolen from outside St Barnabas Church in Pound Hill, Crawley, some time between September 6 - 8.

The bench had been donated to the church by a parishioner as a memorial to his mother and is carved on the back with the words ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Roberts’.

Churchwarden Mrs Phyl Pennell said the bench had been sited outside the church’s pastoral centre - used as a church cafe and event venue - for a number of years.

“We have reported the theft to the police but we waited a few days because we thought it might be a prank,” said Mrs Pennell. “It is not as if it’s just a bench you could put in your garden because it has the carving on the back.”

She said she thought it must have taken at least two people to hoist the bench away because it was secured to the ground by metal.

“The congregation are very upset about it,” she added, and were considering organising a collection to replace it.

She described the theft as “mean and despicable. Whoever pinched it were not thinking about it being a memorial - it’s the sentimental value of it.”

She said the the bench was frequently used by a lot of elderly people. “They might be passing between the shops and the doctors’ surgery - the church is between the two - and they would stop off and sit there.

“I was sitting on it myself on the Tuesday afternoon and then on Thursday lunchtime it had disappeared.”