A GANG of thieves who walked into a Blackburn mosque and stole a safe containing cash earmarked for charity have been branded ‘despicable’ and ‘disrespectful’. By Shuiab Khan & Aban Quaynor.

CCTV footage shows three men walk into the Masjid-Al-Momineen before dragging the safe from a prayer room.

The incident happened between 10pm on Wednesday and 5.30am yesterday and comes just days after thieves used a fire extinguisher to smash their way into an office in the Ghousia Mosque in Chester Street, Blackburn and steal a laptop worth £500.

That incident happened between 1pm and 4pm on Monday.

Police have made no arrests over either break-in but have carried out forensic investigations at both mosques.

Community leaders have been left disgusted by the break-ins and have called on anyone with information to come forward.

Audley ward councillor Zamir Khan said: “It’s ridiculous that people are going into a mosque to steal cash that is designated for charity. It’s disgusting actually. They are the lowest of the low and need to be caught and brought to justice.

“The police need to do more to protect any place of worship, whether that be a mosque, church or synagogue. If mosques can afford it they should install CCTV.”

Cllr Khan said thieves had also broken into the Jaame-al-Hashmi Mosque in Copperfield Street in the last ten days and stole an empty safe.

Bastwell ward councillor Iftakhar Hussain said: “It’s quite shocking. It’s a place of worship and you don’t expect this sort of thing to take place.

“It’s bad enough that the crime has taken place, but walking in to the mosque in trainers and having no respect hurts even more.

“It’s upset the entire community and these people need to be found and brought to justice quickly.”

The Bishop of Burnley, The Right Rev Philip North, said: “Any attack or burglary on a religious building or place where people gather to worship is disrespectful and offensive.

“This is a particular difficult time to be a Muslim in this country and my thoughts and prayers are with those whose places of worship have been affected.

“It’s important that people of faith stand alongside each other at this time. If it turns out that there is any aspect of religious hatred involved then I hope the police give it the appropriate response.”

A spokesperson from Masjid-Al-Momineen said: “There was over £200 in the safe which was taken.

“The money was charity donations to the mosque.

“They took the safe out of the door by sliding it across the prayer hall.

“There was some damage to the doors and windows too.”

The three men on CCTV had their faces covered. One was wearing a blue and brown, top, black trousers and white trainers. The second was wearing a dark jacket, black jeans and white trainers. The third had on a dark coloured top, black trousers and black trainers.

A police spokesman said: “It is despicable that someone would see fit to target a place of worship. We will continue to do our utmost to catch whoever is responsible and I would encourage anyone with information to contact us immediately on 101.”