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Wanted burglar could have attended Worthing church services before breaking in
Officers are investigating whether a man who burgled several churches used previous prayer meetings to plan his thefts.
In the last week, thieves have forced their way into six religious buildings, as well as priest's house, in Worthing.
Among the items taken were cash, computers and an iPad.
St Mary of the Angels, in Richmond Road, Worthing, was one of the churches targeted.
Father Chris Benyon told The Argus that CCTV footage showed a man acting suspiciously near the building just minutes before the break-in.
He said the man pictured was the same as a visitor to a prayer meeting a few weeks previous when a woman’s purse was stolen.
Father Chris said: “The fear is that he was using the prayer meetings as research.
“It’s really quite worrying.”
Sergeant Craig Burgess, of Sussex Police, said: “The thieves have thought nothing of committing crimes on sacred ground and appear to have deliberately targeted buildings they believed would be easy targets - no matter the pain or suffering they caused to their victims.
“In each case the offenders have used bricks or brute force to smash their way into the religious buildings and while they have not escaped with much in some of the burglaries, they have caused great upset.”
The first to be targeted was St John the Divine church hall in Ripley Road, Worthing, where overnight on August 1 a kitchen window was smashed and cash was taken.
At about the same time, offenders broke into a priest's house in Gratwicke Road, which is attached to St Mary of the Angels Church.
Three laptops, a Toshiba notebook, speakers and two hard drives were taken.
The following day, visitors to the Friends Meeting House in Mill Road discovered the building had been broken into and a safe and wooden collecting box taken.
Between August 2 and 3 thieves threw bricks through two windows at Offington Park Methodist Church in South Farm Road but left empty handed.
About £30 was taken from St Mary of the Angels Church in Richmond Road on August 3 and St John the Divine church hall was targeted again on August 5.
The seventh offence happened at St Stephen's Church in Angola Road between 8pm on August 5 and 10.45am on August 7.
The intruders stole an iPad and £160.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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