Conmen steal from pensioner in Blackburn church

| March 24, 2010

TWO conmen and a child accomplice stole a pensioner's handbag as she was handing out hymn books in church.

Kind-hearted Mary Robinson was duped as she welcomed the congregation at Sacred Heart RC Church, Preston New Road, Blackburn.

Two men in their 30s and a girl of around five years old approached Mrs Robinson before 10.30am mass on the pretence of buying a 75p religious ring.

When Mrs Robinson went to see what she could find for the girl from a stall at the back of the church presbytery, the other man took her handbag.

It contained keys, bank cards and charity donations collected by Mrs Robinson the night before.

Mrs Robinson, 70, of Preston New Road, described the scam as an ‘age old trick’ and said the thieves were ‘dishonest low life’ for using a child as an innocent decoy to commit a crime.

She said: “It seems the house of God means nothing but another place for them to do their dirty work in.

“What really upsets me is that someone who obviously has no feelings can use a child in a scam. He must have no conscience. It must come naturally to the dishonest low life that he and his accomplice are.

“The little girl will probably grow up to a life of crime living in the environment that she does.

“As you sow, so shall you reap, but being what they are, that will probably mean nothing to them.”

Mrs Robinson warned other churchgoers ‘don’t be fooled as I was’.

She said: "Beware churchgoers of the area, especially the ladies. Don’t take a bag with you. Just take what you will need while attending church.

“Obviously they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again.”

Fr Lavin said the ‘distasteful’ act was made worse by the fact it took place in church.

He said: “Mary is a good soul. Church is a secure environment and ladies don’t expect this to happen.

“Many of them leave their bags behind while taking Holy Communion, or put them down on a seat while kneeling and praying.

“Their minds are elsewhere – with God – and it’s sad that people are targeting churches.

“Churchgoers are trusting by their nature. This is the last thing you’d expect and it leaves a bad taste, very unsavoury.”

Both men are said to have Irish accents. The man who approached Mrs Robinson is described as in his 30s, around 5ft4in tall, thin, wearing a beige top or jacket, with a ‘smoker’s face’. The girl had long, curly hair.

A police spokesman said: “This was an appalling and shameful crime where it appears a small child has been used to distract the lady."

Call police on 0845 1253545 or Crimestopper anonymously 0800 555 111 with information about the theft on Sunday.

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Category: Church Security