A CHURCH had a £5,000 sound system stolen by thieves — who planned the theft during a service.

Fr Duncan McVicar said the thieves had appeared to make straight for the sound system and must have known the layout of the church.

And they made a beeline for the sound equipment, paid for by parishioners, after getting in to St Ethelbert’s Roman Catholic church in Hawthorne Street, Deane, without touching anything else.

Police believe two men were responsible for stealing the amplifiers, microphones and other electrical equipment.

Fr McVicar said: “Whoever came in to the church just went towards this system.

“There are two main doors in St Ethelbert’s, one that is always bolted from the inside.

“They realised the bolts were there, and were simply able to walk in on the Sunday evening.

“They must have been at a service in the church and seen what they wanted.”

The theft has left Fr McVicar wary of new faces.

He said: “When you see people in the church you don’t recognise you don’t want to stare at them, you want to make new people feel at home.

“It is really sad from our point of view.

“It’s horrible to think that they will have been in here attending a service. It almost makes you paranoid.”

Fr McVicar said the church was large and a more modern sound system was needed to ensure everyone could hear services.

He said: “The parishioners had saved up a lot of money to get a decent sound system for the church.

“They wanted this system and did a lot of fundraising events over a period of six or seven months. We were getting elderly people making donations they really could not afford.

“The community here had worked so hard and it disappeared just like that.

“The only saving grace for us was that they did not touch anything religious. That would have made our congregation even more upset.“

A police spokesman said: “Between 8pm and 11pm on June 22 two men entered the church through the main front door.

“Once inside they have stolen a stereo system and sound machines worth just under £5,000.

“We have no description of the offenders.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.