A historic church suffered damage when pipes from an organ worth £12,000 were targeted during break-in.

Pipes from St John’s Church in Patching were damaged during the incident and church wardens have warned that they may need to lock their doors due to the problem.

Kath Hutchinson, church warden at St John’s Church, said: “It’s a matter of concern that this has happened in a rural area. We are normally a low crime area but someone could have been in and out in minutes.

The Argus: The organ pipe which was damaged in the incidentThe organ pipe which was damaged in the incident (Image: St John's Church)

“The church is left open and it would be a great shame if we had to change that.

“We hope this is a one-off incident. It’s only the one damaged pipe but we don’t know how much that will cost.”

The damaged organ was previously refurbished three years ago, costing around £12,000.

St John’s Church in Patching is thought to date back to the 13th century and is Grade I listed.

Renovations have been carried out in the church throughout its history including most recently in 1969.

Ms Hutchinson suggested that the organ pipes may have been mistaken for lead which can be targeted by criminals and stolen from the roofs of churches.

She added that she hoped that a campaign to report the organ pipe theft would deter criminals from targeting other rural churches such as St John's.

The Argus: St John's Church in PatchingSt John's Church in Patching (Image: St John's Church)

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said the crime is being recorded as theft.

She said: “Police received a report of a break-in and theft at St. John’s Church in Patching on Saturday, May 13. Organ pipes were reported stolen from the church.

“Officers attended to provide reassurance and to carry out enquiries which are still ongoing.

“Anyone with any information is asked to report it police online or via 101 quoting 519 of 13/05.”