Historic Burnley church targeted by stone thieves for second time in six months
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The cruel theft was discovered by the Rev Chris Casey, the vicar at St John the Evangelist Church in Worsthorne, while out for his morning run.
He said: "A resident walking his dog alerted me to theft. Whoever is responsible has smashed the lock on the top gate and taken around 20 flagstones, the majority of them from the front of the wall of remembrance.
"It was just heartbreaking to see this morning."
This is the second time the church has been targeted by stone thieves in six months. In February raiders helped themselves to several paving stones in an identical theft.
Local businessman David Emmott stepped in and replaced the flagstones free of charge and many of the ones he donated have been stolen in the second raid.
Residents living close to the church are now checking any CCTV footage they have that could give police a clue to the identity of the thieves.
Rev Casey said the theft has caused outrage and upset in the village but he had been heartened by the overwhelming amount of support from people offering to donate money to the church to have its own CCTV system installed.
He said: "It started out as a really bad day but itis wonderful to see how much people in this village care about the church and want to help."