Elderly people are living in fear following a spate of burglaries in Waringstown, including one at the Holy Trinity Church, a local MLA has said.
The church was broken into and cash stolen from the collection box and there were three burglaries and an attempted burglary at a nearby commercial complex all within the space of five days.
It was the second time the church property has been robbed this month as thieves stole lawnmowers and strimmers just weeks ago.
Ulster Unionist MLA Joanne Dobson said the burglars were “nothing short of thugs”.
Mrs Dobson said there was a sense of disbelief and horror from the congregation, particularly the elderly parishioners, when they learned that thieves had stolen cash from the collection box. “Elderly people are frightened and very concerned,” she said.
The thieves broke in some time between Tuesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 21, causing some damage to the church and a light oak collection box. Police are also probing three burglaries at commercial premises at a complex in the Terrace View area some time between 10pm on Saturday, August 23 and 7am on Sunday, August 24.
Cash was stolen from a shop, a cafe and a barbers. An attempted burglary was also made at a butchers but access was not gained.
Mrs Dobson and Cllr Marc Woods said: “This incident, which defies belief, has left behind real hurt within the village at the theft from and damage to the parish church. Any burglary is a harrowing event, leaving behind disruption for others to clean up, but to break into a church to steal money is particularly callous.
“It is disturbing that when people devote time to attend and support their local church that there are people who feel they can cause this sort of hurt for a relatively small amount of personal gain.”
Police are not linking the two spates of burglaries however Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Ken Annett appealed for information urging people to call the non-emergency number 101.