Thieves have stolen figurines from a cherished church nativity scene in Congresbury, Somerset, and also raided its foodbank donations.
Staff at St. Andrew's Church discovered the crime had taken place when they entered the building on Saturday, April 25.
The raiders forced open the door and got into the church porch before making their way to the vestry where the nativity scene was stored.
Mary and Jesus were taken from the Christmas display, along with one of the Three Kings, an ox, and the baby's manger. Several characters from a smaller nativity set also disappeared.
The characters are about 2ft tall and made of Plaster of Paris – unfortunately they are part of a set given some years ago and are pretty irreplaceable. What’s annoying is how much the younger children from school get out of coming up to see the Crib Scene each year. They are a bit of a centrepiece each Christmas.
The church vicar, Matt Thomson, took to Facebook to appeal for help in tracing the stolen items, saying: "Could people have a look around their gardens and when they are out and about on their daily walks in case the characters or the Foodbank Box are lying around somewhere."
The church serves as a collection point for for the village foodbank, which distributes to those in need locally, and sends any surplus supplies to the foodbank in Weston-super-Mare.
The vicar also confirmed that the thieves were captured on a neighbour's CCTV, and the incident has been reported to the police.