DESPICABLE thieves broke into a church and stole a number of religious artefacts.
Detectives from Peterlee CID are investigating a burglary which took place at All Saints Church, in Wheatley Hill.
Scrap thieves are being blamed for the raid at the church, in the village’s Church Street, around 7pm on Wednesday.
Raiders stole 34 pipes from the historic church organ and a number of holy items, a miner’s lamp given in memory of local miner Philip Brown, a silver vase, a candelabra, an incense bearer and holder, a bell, a baptism jug, two silver chalices, as well as other items.
The burglary was discovered by the churchwarden around 8pm on Wednesday.
Detectives are appealing to anyone who may have been offered the items to contact police and are also urging local scrap merchants to keep an eye out for the pieces.
Detective Sergeant Cliff Down, of Peterlee CID, said: “This has caused a lot of unnecessary expense and stress.
“We believe the items may be sold on so we really need the public to come forward with information.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Peterlee CID on 0345 6060365 and ask for Det Sgt Down or ring Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555111.