THIEVES smashed their way into a church and stole the proceeds of a jumble sale.

They kicked in the wooden front doors of Brierfield Methodist Church and forced two inner doors into the vestry, where they snatched £23 and a cheque from an unlocked safe, and caused more than £100 damage.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson condemned the church’s second burglary in 18 months as an ‘outrageous’ attack on an institution that does so much good in the community.

David Foster, who has been steward of the church in Colne Road for eight years, said: “I just found it so sad that people are in such a state that they will resort to breaking into a church. As a Christian, you look to forgive people but we are sad and justifiably angry about the break-in.

“All it’s done is inconvenience people and add to the insurance bill, because when this kind of thing happens, the premiums go up.

“We have to be thankful that they didn’t do more damage.

“This incident was similar to the break-in last year, but they came in through the back door last time.

“Nothing of any value is ever left in the building. There was a brand new CD player on the table which they left, so they were obviously just looking for cash, but we don’t have much at all.”

Mr Stephenson said: “It is outrageous that people will break into a church and steal money given for a good cause. I’ve been there a number of times to visit and worship and the people there are dedicated to doing good for the church and the outer community.

“I certainly hope that anyone who knows anything about this outrageous crime gets in touch with the police as soon as possible.”

Sgt Shaun Pearson, of Pendle Police, said: “The incident happened between 7pm on Friday and 10am on Saturday.

“There were no religious items taken and no excess damage caused beyond what was necessary to break in, so we don’t believe it was religiously motivated.

“Inquiries are ongoing and anyone with information should call police on 101.”