MOSQUE leaders have applied for 7ft-high fencing to be installed around Masjid Al Momineen in Blackburn after being repeatedly targeted by vandals and thieves.

In the worst case, thieves broke into the mosque on Ash Street in April and stole £3,000 in cash from a safe as well as causing about £10,000 of damage.

At the time, the mosque had just undergone a £50,000 facelift.

Mahmood Dalvi, president of Masjid Al Momineen, said: "The application has been made to try and increase the security to the building. In the last few years there has been a number of break ins and vandalism to the property.

"There has been substantial damage to the property as well as material/monetary loss. The mosque has also seen racist remarks sprayed onto the walls.

"The latest break in resulted in substantial damage to the mosque along with a number of items and money being stolen.

"The proposed fencing will have gates to both sides. This will allow pedestrian to come to the mosque but also use it as access to get from one side of Ash Street to the other.

"There is also a large gate on the east side of the mosque which allows car to enter the highway opposite the mosque.

"It is proposed that the gates to allow pedestrians to access parts of Ash Street from both the west and east side will be kept open throughout the day but be will be closed after the last evening prayers which could be around 10pm and then reopened around 9am.

"Most of the break ins have happened overnight."

In the theft dating back to April, it was thought thieves used a crowbar to get the padlock off the steel gates and broke in through the front door.

“They then came into the side door from the hall and broke that door, which was locked, before making their way to the office and breaking into the safe, stealing the cash and a laptop

Mr Dalvi then said thieves went upstairs and smashed through the door of the CCTV room, before smashing through a secure box into the room where they took all the CCTV.

Speaking at the time, Mr Dalvi said: “We found all the doors open when they should be locked, so there was definitely an element of planning to this and we believe more than one person did this.”

Mr Dalvi said the damage to the mosque came after a new committee took over last year.