FLAGSTONES have been stolen from a churchyard.

On Tuesday night, several flagstones on a path in St Thomas Musbury churchyard in Helmshore were stolen.

This has left the paths unsafe and unsuitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs.

Vicar at the church, Father David Stephenson, said the incident has been very upsetting.

He said: "Overnight about 13 flagstones were lifted and taken from the churchyard.

"Whoever has taken them has made a mess of the paths and we're now left with trip hazards.

"As a result, some of the congregation won't be able to get to the church building as they're in wheelchairs or have pushchairs and can't access it.

"What makes it worse is that over the last few weeks we've had a massive volunteer project to help restore the graves and the community has been so supportive and offered their time and money, so it's a bit of a blow to those who've helped.

"It's very upsetting."

Father Stephenson, who also conducts services at St James' Church in Haslingden, said this isn't the first time flags have been stolen, as around 18 months ago, a similar thing occurred.

He said: "Flags at St James' have been stolen in the past, and just before I came to St Thomas', thieves had taken some from there too.

"It looks like it's only the smaller stones that have been lifted, as they're easier to carry.

"I have a feeling it's someone who knows the churchyard and knows which stones are loose or can be lifted.

"Luckily, all of our stones have been treated with smart water, which allows the police or dealers to scan the stone and trace where it came from.

"Hopefully someone knows something and can get the stones back to us."

Anyone with any information about the flagstones should contact the police on 101 quoting log number 0307 of July 31.