Spate of break-ins at St Thomas of Canterbury Church Newport

A Catholic church in Newport has been broken into three times in the past week and a half – but nothing has been taken.

Both the Pyle Street and High Street entrance to St Thomas of Canterbury Church have seen break-ins in recent days leaving clergy and parishioners questioning what the motives of the crimes were.

Parish secretary Margi Timney said: “We don’t know if this is hate crime, or street sleepers trying to come in for the warmth or just young hoodlums. They’ve come in all these three times and they’ve taken nothing.

“The first one was in the Holyrood Hall, a community hall, they broke the lock to get in, it’s a massive big red door on the High Street. So they got in, and this lady who does the country market, her cupboard was double padlocked and they smashed that, broke the door in two, and took nothing.

“It didn’t even look like they had gone through her cupboards. Everything was left exactly as we left it, it’s very, very strange.”

St Thomas Church courtyard, Newport

The second break-in happened at the property’s courtyard, the confessional door, which is a large green door that can be seen from Pyle Street, was kicked in and smashed the window to the area where the priest gets ready in his robes before mass. Again nothing was taken.

Then again on Sunday night (November 11) the same heavy green doors were smashed into again, with further windows inside the church broken, but again, nothing was taken.

“It’s more perplexing that they haven’t taken anything,” added the parish secretary.

Someone also tried to break into the priest’s living quarters but was unsuccessful.

The Diocese have agreed to secure the building at “whatever the cost” and are supplying iron to lock down the doors and fit CCTV.

“They’ve forced us to do this. It’s quite alarming and makes you feel vulnerable,” said Mrs Timney.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: “We received a report of a burglary at St Thomas’ Church in Newport.

“Between 4.30pm on November 8 and 8am on November 9, entry was forced into the church and damage was caused to a door inside the building, but nothing was reported stolen.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting 44180421033.”