Advice for would-be church burglars

the Rev Rose Luxford outside St Paul's Church in Coquet St, one of three churches burgled in...
the Rev Rose Luxford outside St Paul's Church in Coquet St, one of three churches burgled in Oamaru over the past several days. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
The head of Waitaki's Presbyterian parish says if those responsible for breaking in to St Paul's Church overnight on Tuesday had stolen a Bible instead of nothing at all, they may have learned something.

The church and its office, hall and lounge were entered forcibly through either locked windows, or in the case of the office, a locked door.

It is the third church to be targeted by would-be burglars in the past 10 days, after a church building at St Patrick's Basilica in Reed St was forcibly entered on the evening of May 29 or early on May 30. Windows at the basilica were also smashed.

Then, between Saturday and Tuesday, entry was gained to the Orwell St Church through a back window.

The Rev Rose Luxford inspects damage to a door at St Paul's Church in Coquet St in Oamaru. The...
The Rev Rose Luxford inspects damage to a door at St Paul's Church in Coquet St in Oamaru. The church is one of three in the town that have been broken into over the past several days. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
It was not believed anything was taken from either church.

The Rev Rose Luxford, of Oamaru, said she was shocked when she was told about the break-in yesterday.

"It was a bit of a shock and a bit disheartening to know people had broken in. They have moved a few things around [in the office] and must have used a candle, because there was wax on the desk.

"They are obviously looking for cash, but churches don't have money lying around. We presume that's what they were after."

She said it was "concerning" that other churches had also been targeted and questioned what could be gained from such acts.

However, she would not have been worried if one item had been lifted, Mrs Luxford said.

"I think if they had picked up a Bible and took that ... I would have been happy for them to take that and read it."

She said the church would review its security measures.

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said police had not ruled out the possibility the crimes were related.

"Certainly breaking into churches is not common, so certainly we are considering the possibility that they are linked."

He said police were concerned by the spike in reported burglaries and were focused on apprehending the person or persons responsible.

"When we get a pattern of offending like this, we modify our roster and patrolling patterns to address it."

Two other burglaries were also reported to police on Wednesday, which were believed to have been carried out overnight on Tuesday.

A clothes dryer was reported stolen from the Brydone Hotel in lower Thames St, and locks were forced at a commercial property in Ouse St and several tools and a quantity of fuel stolen.

On May 30, an unlocked laundry room connected to a house in Trent St was entered and some alcohol taken, and between May 31 and Monday an office was broken into at the Drill Hall in Itchen St and some cash taken.

It was also reported several tools had been stolen from a construction site in Orwell St over the weekend.

No arrests had been made and inquiries were continuing, Sgt Wilkinson said.

- Oamaru police (03) 433-1400, Crimestoppers 0800 555-111.

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