Parish church ransacked by burglar

Scene of devastation at St Paul’s Church, Honiton, following break-in.

Police were on guard outside St Paul’s Church last week following a burglary.

A scene of devastation greeted the Rector of Honiton after an intruder trashed the parish church, in High Street.

The parish office was ransacked following the break-in, overnight last Wednesday.

Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was caused and the Rector, Reverend Sue Roberts, is convinced the culprit was “clearly looking for money”.

Police were standing guard outside the church early on Thursday - to protect the scene while forensic experts made their way to Honiton from Exmouth.

PCSOs Barry Redford and Darren England ensured any evidence left by the burglar was not disturbed.

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It is understood by the Midweek Herald that the church was entered via a rear door, which was forced.

The lock was broken and left discarded on the floor, along with the remains of the wooden door frame.

Footprints were observed by The Herald outside the parish office.

Miss Roberts said: “The parish office has been ransacked.

“We don’t know at the moment if anything has been stolen, but they were clearly looking for money.”

She confirmed William Salter’s painting, The Entombment of Christ, was not stolen during the burglary and added: “A big oak table was overturned and the floor safe was ripped up.”

The burglary could not have come at a worse time for the church - it is struggling financially and needs major support from the local community to meet running costs.

Donations, however small, would be welcome at this particular time and, especially, as the church recovers from the devastation of the burglary.

Burglars have struck across Honiton over the past week, with one angry businessman putting a price on the culprit’s head.

Cash has been the thief’s target, with charity tins and donation boxes being stolen.

Even the Thelma Hulbert Gallery has fallen victim to the crime wave.

News of the burglaries has angered local residents.

Anybody with information is urged to call police on 08452 777444 or Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555 111.