New Year’s Day break in at St Mary’s Woodford

St Marys Woodford (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

St Marys Woodford (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Thieves broke into a church in the early hours of New Year’s Day and stole a safe containing silverware.

A silver christening bowl and silver candlesticks, donated by the Mayor and Mayoress of Redbridge in 1972-73, were some of the items stolen from St Mary’s Church, in High Road, South Woodford.

The police are investigating the crime and reviewing the church’s security.

No money was stolen as all Christmas collections for charity had been banked just days earlier.

Rev Canon Ian Tarrant said: “We have lost some beautiful works of craftmanship, which were valuable to us not because they were made of silver, but because we use them on a regular basis in our worship.

“They also link us to previous generations here in Woodford.”

However, Rev Tarrant does not believe the items can be sold on easily.

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“We ask the public to be vigilant in case the thieves try to dispose of them locally in any way,” he said.

Churchwarden Anne Jones, who has attended St Mary’s since 1979, said it is the worst incident to happen to the church in recent memory.

“We have had windows broken,” she said. “Silly things like that. Opportunistic thefts with people just wondering in but this is the worst one.

“Sadly, I do not think it is just our church. It is generally the drawback of being open [most of the time].”

Ms Jones confirmed the church were looking into erecting CCTV to prevent a repeat break-in.

Police confirmed they were called to the scene at 9.11am on Friday January 2. No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.

If you have any information, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.