Video: Thieves target church ... for the second time

Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused when a Catholic church was broken into for the second time within weeks.

The Friary Church of St Francis and St Anthony in Haslett Avenue, Crawley, was first targeted by thieves two weeks ago and suffered a second break-in on Wednesday in the early hours of the morning. Police say that every internal door in the church was smashed through.

Parish priest Father Simon Dray

Parish priest Father Simon Dray

Parish priest Father Simon Dray said: “Two sacristy doors were very badly damaged and other internal doors had been forced with some violence. It was quite deliberate. I don’t have any idea of who it is or what their real motivation is.”

He said that it was thought that a small amount of candle money had been stolen during the first break-in when a rear fire door was jemmied open.

In the second break-in, thieves broke a window to gain access. A small repository shop selling rosaries, cards and other religious items was searched but, said Father Simon, “it doesn’t appear there was anything of interest to them, nothing of great financial value.”

He said the church - which is open from 8am-7pm before being locked for the night - was alarmed, but that the alarm had failed to go off.

A police spokesman said: “This is the second break-in in the last two weeks. It is expected to cost several thousand pounds to cover the cost of repair.”