Lancashire Police have said they will "maximise forensic opportunities" as part of their investigation into a trio of raids on churches in the region.
A group of vandals broke into the Father's House Elim Church in Lancaster on Tuesday night, causing serious damage to property and spoiling supplies that were due to be delivered to vulnerable members of the community. St Wilfrid's Church in Church Brow, Halton, and the United Reformed Church in High Road, were also targeted, leading investigators to believe that the incidents are linked.
Sgt Lindsay Brown from Lancashire Constabulary described the raids as "deplorable", noting that the assailants were taking advantage of lockdown to henously sabotage the good work of local churches.
"It is likely that they are linked and the offenders are taking advantage of lockdown in that they think there’ll be less use of the buildings," Sgt Brown told the Lancaster Guardian.
"However, many churches in the district are very busy supporting vulnerable groups and these crimes apart from being deplorable, disrupt the distribution of support to the community."
Sgt Brown added that the police will be deploying a range of investigatory techniques in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"The investigation will focus on maximising forensic opportunities at the scene of these crimes to establish the identification of the offenders," he said.
"In the meantime we would appeal for any witnesses to come forward and tell us what they know on 101.
"We are also reaching out to all faiths to review their security arrangements to prevent further crimes."
In a statement on Facebook, Father's House senior minister Des Deehan wrote:
"On behalf of everyone at Father’s House Church in Lancaster I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been in touch to offer help & support and so many kind messages. I can honestly say that we are overwhelmed and deeply moved by the response from the community in Lancaster and across Lancashire.
"I have tried to respond to everyone who has messaged, called or emailed because we wanted to thank you personally.
"We are deeply humbled and very grateful that we get to serve you in our local community.
"What happened on Tuesday night was a setback but thanks to our amazing team of volunteers and your help & donations we were able to open again today and serve over 90 free meals to those in need.
"We would love to thank you all in person, so feel free to pop by anytime whilst the Cafe is open.
"And when we are allowed to completely reopen post Covid we will let you know when our next Family Fun Day is soo that you can come along, have food, have fun and say hello!
"You are all such a blessing and we thank God for you!
"In what may seem strange, we are also thankful for what has happened even though it was a shock initially because of what it has lead to.
"Our heart is for the Community and through this we have seen the heart of our community and we are blessed to be in Skerton & Lancaster.
"Having been a Prison Chaplain for 12 years and worked with many disadvantaged young people in the past I have learned that we all need help, guidance & kindness.
"So we are praying for the people who caused the damage & wish them no harm.
"Thank you everyone & God bless!"