The vicar of a church in Burnley has encouraged anyone who is struggling to reach out, after around £1,000 worth of goods were stolen.

Father Alex Frost, vicar at St Matthew’s Church, said various items, including a watch, were taken from the church.

This was on March 15, when the church choir were rehearsing.

Alex said: “It happened in the early evening when my choir was practising.

“The door hadn’t been locked and the person in question saw the light on, tried the door and entered the church.

“He started rummaging around in the vicar’s vestry and took some valuables.

“Items that had been donated for charity had been moved. A watch was stolen.”

In a statement, issued by the church, visitors were urged not to leave valuables unattended following the incident.

The statement said: “Please can everyone be reminded not to leave any personal belongings unattended.

“While we wish to support the most vulnerable people in our parish, criminal activity will not be tolerated, and perpetrators can expect to face the criminal justice system with our full support.

“Please do not speculate on the culprit, he is not a regular at our church.”

Alex said the incident was a “kick in the teeth” and is now urging anyone struggling financially to get in touch with the church instead of stealing.

He said: “It is a shame as [we believe] this was a person we helped out in the past with food vouchers. It is a bit of a kick in the teeth.

“It shows you how desperate some people can become.

“If you are struggling then please reach out to us. If we can help you, we will. We can signpost you in the right direction, in terms of help and support.

“We can provide food vouchers for you. You don’t need to steal from the church..

“I hope the person responsible gets the help they need.”

Anyone with information can get in touch with police, by calling 101 and quoting log reference: LC-20240316-0655.

Lancashire Police has been approached for comment.