HEARTLESS thieves have stolen 'more than 1,000' tins of food collected to feed the homeless from a church.

Hyndburn Helpers host two weekly meetings to help those in need at St James Church in Accrington and also provide parcels to help people out.

The church has been broken in to and food, clothes and toiletries have all been stolen as boxes of items for the homeless were 'ransacked'.

Lisa Hilton, one of the volunteers who helps run Hyndburn Helpers, said she is heartbroken at the theft.

She said: "It's absolutely devastating.

"They've stolen from the homeless and the needy.

"They absolutely ransacked the place, they've gone through shoeboxes of stuff and taken out anything they can sell on.

"Trays upon trays of Heinz spaghetti hoops have been stolen.

"We've got almost nothing left."

Last year Hyndburn Helpers launched an appeal in the Lancashire Telegraph for donations after they were close to running out of items to help the homeless.

The group received an 'overwhelming response' to the appeal in June and were left 'more than a years worth of food'.

What More UK in Altham also got involved by donating boxes to store goods, which thieves ransacked for goods.

The majority of the remaining items were stolen in the theft.

The group have been calling for businesses in the area to check CCTV footage for anything that might help.

The church's CD player was also taken which was last used in their Sunday service.

Reverend Ian Enticott from the church said: "It seems to have been the food which was targeted which is there to help the homeless and deprived.

"It's been a large amount of food that has been taken, it's a scary amount.

"They must have had something to take it all away.

"It's the first time I've ever seen anything of this scale.

"It's strange, they've targeted the food, there's other stuff they could have taken but have left.

"It looks like they've kicked the door in, and then shut it behind them to make it look like nothings happened."

He also said the church had been hit by a theft at a similar time last year, where hand bells costing around £4,500 were stolen.

Police said the incident is under investigation and encouraged anyone with any information to get in contact.

A spokesman said: "The incident happened some time between January 10 and 3.30pm on January 15.

"The door of an outbuilding was kicked open.

"Food and clothes were taken."

People should contact the police on 101 quoting log number LC-2018-0115-1095.