Pickpockets target churchgoers during services

| May 18, 2010

Pickpockets are targeting churchgoers as they pray – taking mobile phones, wallets and even the bag of a little girl at Sunday school.

Police have now stepped in to warn parishioners to be on their guard.

The pickpockets have targeted Royston’s Methodist and parish churches in the past four months, making off with wallets, mobile phones, a cash collection box, a silver goblet and the bag of a young girl attending Sunday school.

The thefts all occurred during Sunday services leading church staff to believe the crooks may be posing as parishioners.

The Rev Chris White, from Royston Methodist Church on Queens Road, said the whole congregation was on edge.

He said: “To steal from someone who has come to church to pray is terrible, especially as they really targeted all of us in this area. It has made everyone much more cautious as it could be anyone who was at the services.

“We don’t want to put CCTV into the church and make it like a fortress – it should be a welcoming place, just not for thieves.”

Mr White said they would not rule out the thief stealing money to buy drugs and said: “People can get very desperate in that state and might see churches, which are open to the public, as a good opportunity.”

Both churches are now working with Royston’s crime prevention team to increase security measures, including checking doors are locked, putting up posters and asking people to keep hold of bags and coats.

Mr White added: “We are very pleased to have the support of the police. They have warned us not to tackle the thief in case they are dangerous and violent.”

Sgt Jon Vine, from the Royston neighbourhood scheme, urged churchgoers to be more vigilant.

He said: “We have been dealing with issues of theft from two churches in the town. One person was arrested in connection with an allegation of theft but was released without charge.

“While these sorts of incidents are rare in North Herts, we would always advise people to remain vigilant at all times and follow common sense advice.



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Category: Church Security