THIEVES stole nine drain pipes from a church on Christmas Day.

The Rector of St Nicholas Church in Worth, Crawley, said he was uplifted by the support from his community in the wake of the “callous” crime.

The theft could cause serious water damage to the structure of the Grade 1 listed Saxon church.

Father Michael Boag said: “We had a very busy Christmas.

“Then while many of us were enjoying a quiet Christmas evening thieves stole nine down pipes from our gutters.

“On Christmas Day I locked up at 4pm and didn’t notice anything.

“When I locked up on Boxing Day I noticed some damage to the stonework.

“They were cast iron but weren’t particularly old or valuable other than for scrap.

“But it is the potential terrible damage that could happen to the stonework of this Anglo Saxon church, which dates back to 975, that could be much more significant.

“We have just been through a few days of incredible joy and celebration and we are looking forward to a lot of exciting projects at the church next year so this is very sad.


“When I saw the devastation caused it is shocking.

“I just think ‘why would you want to do that?’

“I am very, very sad that this has happened, but a downpipe is not as valuable as a person.

“I really hope whoever did this can reflect on the bigger impact of their actions.”

Father Michael said he had members of his congregation of every decade from birth to 100.

He said he had been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the community in the wake of the thefts.

Hundreds of worshippers have sent messages of support from around the world and made donations to fund replacing the pipes – already running to more than £400.

He said: “I have had so many people saying that the church is special to them because they were married here or their grandparents were.

“This was a very callous act, they haven’t thought about the consequences.

“A lot of people come into the church and feel the importance of a place where people have come to pray for 1,100 years.

“When someone comes through and just swipes something without thinking it is very sad.

“But I guess I am heartened by what a fantastic community we have, and that is the message that is important here.

“It restores your faith in humanity.”

The theft has been reported to Sussex Police.

Anyone with information should report it quoting crime reference 47190223283.