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World News

'What they meant for evil...' community comes to the rescue as thieves make off with church charity collection

by Donna Birrell

The vicar of a church in east London says he is "bowled over" after parishioners raised more than £2000 to replace a collection that was stolen from the church at the weekend. 

Thieves broke into Christ Church in Wanstead in the early hours of Sunday morning. CCTV caught them prizing a safe off the wall and hauling it back outside, before fleeing the scene with it on a bicycle and an e-scooter.

The safe had contained hundreds of pounds which had been raised for The Children's Society at a recent Christingle service.

It also contained church records, including baptisms, confirmations, marriages and records from the garden of remembrance.

After revealing news of the break-in on social media a JustGiving page was set up and it's already believed to have raised more money than was stolen.

Fr James Gilder, the rector of Wanstead, gave his reaction to Yahoo News UK:

"I am so thankful to everyone. It shows the community spirit, it shows how well regarded the church is, which is lovely.

"The community response has turned something bad into something quite gracious, and shown a little bit of that Christmas spirit."

Fr Gilder added a message for the thieves:

"It's my job to forgive people... but people have to know what's right and what's wrong, and forgiving something doesn't make the action right.

"Of course they're forgiven, but they need to know what they're doing isn't just robbing a building - it's robbing an entire community."

The police say no arrests have so far been made and enquiries are ongoing.

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