'A new low' - Gardai investigate as thieves target people attending Mass
Thefts from people attending mass in Co Meath has been described as "a new low".
Gardai are investigating after a woman had her bag snatched while she went for Holy Communion, and a man had his phone pick-pocketed during the same Mass.
Fr Declan Hurley, Parish Administrator for St Mary's Church in Navan, Co Meath, is now urging parishioners to be mindful of their belongings.
Fr Hurley said he is "upset" and "deeply saddened" at the thefts during 6pm Mass last Saturday night.
It's understood that a handbag was taken when a woman left her seat to go for Holy Communion, while a pick-pocket took a phone from a man during the Mass which always receives a large congregation.
In a statement, Fr Hurley said: "I am upset and deeply annoyed that Mass in St Mary's Church - a time when parishioners gather as a community around the table of the Lord - should become an occasion for theft.
"Thankfully our security camera system allowed the members of An Garda Siochana to identify the suspect immediately.
"I thank the gardai for their swift response to this incident and for their kindness to the victims involved
"I take this opportunity to ask parishioners to be mindful of their personal belongings and to draw the attention of the Church stewards to any suspicious activity."
Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Dean Kerins also urged Mass-goers to be vigilant with their belongings.
"This is definitely a new low for me. I'm sure there has been thefts from churches before but this is the first time that I've ever heard of it happening while people went to receive Holy Communion
"Unfortunately nowhere is safe anymore and I would again remind people to be vigilant with their belongings at Mass and if they do leave them in a seat while going for Communion, maybe ask someone you know to keep an eye on them until you return."
Gardai have confirmed they are investigating.