West Mercia Police say they're treating vandalism at a church in Worcestershire over Christmas as a hate crime.
A set of 12 antique hand-bells, a donation box and other items were stolen from St Peter's Church in Upper Arley and the intruders urinated in a chancel next to the altar.
Graffiti was also sprayed on walls and pews and a piano were damaged in the incidents which happened on 23rd and 24th December.
Louvain Beer, treasurer and lay minister at St Peter's, told the Shropshire Star :
"The community has taken this personally. It is their church, it belongs to them, and it has been desecrated by these people from outside.
"There is a mixture of sadness and anger about it. The damage caused is going to cost a lot of money to repair, and of course, on top of that we are going to have to think about putting in more security to protect the building."
The handbells, Louvain explained, are virtually priceless. The church elders are unsure of their age, but suspect that they were donated at least 150 years ago.
A West Mercia Police spokesperson said: "Overnight of December 23/24 St Peter’s Church, in Upper Arley, north Worcestershire and the neighbouring Arley Arboretum were both broken into and vandalised.
"While inside the church, the intruders urinated in the chancel next to the altar, smashed a leaded window, damaged a piano lid and two pews, and tore off the door to the empty wall safe. They also broke into the bell tower and stole a set of handbells. The incident is being treated as a hate crime.
"Officers have attended the scene and are investigating. It is not yet known if the two incidents are related but it is a line of enquiry.
"Anyone who has any information is urged to call 101 or visit our website, quoting incident 177i of December 24, 2021 or report it online via our website."