Criminal gang use explosives to blow church safes and steal ‘irreplaceable’ silver


A gang of thieves are using explosives to blast open church safes and steal silver worth tens of thousands of pounds.

They are believed to have broken into four churches so far, making off with chalices, candlesticks, crucifixes and plates that had been locked away in safe storage. Metro reports.

In one raid, 25 pieces of communion silver, including a 450-year-old Elizabethan chalice worth £30,000, were stolen from a locked safe in the vestry of Lady St Mary’s Church in Wareham, Dorset.

The burglars smashed a lead window to get into the Grade I listed, 10th century building and used angle grinders to break open heavy oak doors.

They then drilled a hole in the door of the 3ft tall safe before placing explosives inside to force the door open.

Similar thefts have taken place in two churches in Suffolk and another one in Lancashire.

Police have confirmed they are looking into whether they are linked.

Police and the Church of England have warned other churches to be vigilant.

Canon Simon Everett described the attack on the Lady St Mary’s as a ‘very professional crime’.

The gang struck overnight on April 14 while he was asleep in the Rectory.

They cut the power in case the church had CCTV cameras and then broke every locked door inside before finding the safe in a store room.

Their haul included a seven-inch tall Elizabethan chalice and another dating to the time of Charles II.

Several items belonging to neighbouring churches that were being stored there because they didn’t have their own safes were also taken.

There are fears the precious items could be melted down.

The thieves also used a lubricant, possibly WD40, to prevent their fingerprints being detected.

Canon Everett said: ‘They tried drilling out the locks of the safe, when they didn’t have any joy they drilled a hole in the middle of the door and put a small explosive charge below the mechanism.

‘I don’t know how much of a noise it would have made. It didn’t blow the door off its hinges, it just blew the locking mechanism.

‘It was very professionally done. There was no trace of DNA or fingerprints or anything. They cut all the electrics in case there were security cameras, they knew exactly what they were doing.

‘They interfered with nothing else in the church, they just took all the silver.

‘People are shocked and outraged, they just can’t believe it. It’s so audacious. They got away with so much and there seems to be nothing to go on.

‘The really sad part is some of them are really significant pieces and it would be horrendous to think they are just going to be melted down.

The church is still waiting on valuations for the stolen items but an expert has indicated the pieces are worth tens of thousands.

The Elizabethan chalice, which is engraved with the church’s name, is 7.25 inches tall and dates back to 1574. Similar pieces are available for sale online for up to £27,000.

A silver chalice made in Charles II’s era would be worth about £8,000.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.


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