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Thieves steal Poppy Appeal cash from church hours before Remembrance Sunday service

It’s the second year running that St Thomas’ Leesfield Church, in Lees, Oldham has been targeted. Photo: MEN Syndication

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

The intruders ransacked the building 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, Oldham, has been targeted. Last year, crooks stole the Christmas hamper.

St Thomas’ Leesfield Church Credit: MEN Syndication

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 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 a replacement. 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.”