Monday 10 December 2018

'They must have used sledgehammers' - local priest calls for security review after thieves rob church

Thieves entered the doors on the right to the Family Room
Thieves entered the doors on the right to the Family Room
Parish Priest of St Anne’s Fr Pat Lombard with parish dog Penny outside one of the damaged doors at St Anne’s

Sorcha Crowley

Three local priests are reviewing their personal security after thieves broke into a church in Co Sligo.

The thieves damaged three external doors at St Anne's Parish Church shortly before 11pm on Friday, September 15.

Parish Priest of St Anne’s Fr Pat Lombard with parish dog Penny outside one of the damaged doors at St Anne’s
Parish Priest of St Anne’s Fr Pat Lombard with parish dog Penny outside one of the damaged doors at St Anne’s

They smashed open the door of the sacristy and rifled the office before stealing some petty cash and the hard drive of the CCTV cameras.

External flood lights and cameras were also broken and interfered with.

St Anne's Parish Priest Fr Pat Lombard, who lives in a bungalow behind the church with Fr Steve Walsh and retired PP Fr Dominick Gillooly, came upon the scene at 11pm, narrowly missing an encounter with the culprits.

"I went over to check the office and discovered, lo and behold the broken doors. There's a sense of relief that nothing sacred was touched, the sacred spaces weren't damaged in any way and no one was hurt," Fr Pat told The Sligo Champion.

"They took the hard drive of the CCTV and some money from the petty cash but not that much. The main damage is to the doors. They were looking for money," he said, adding that the vandals had not been able to break open their safe.

"They must have used sledgehammers because those doors are very strong. It's quiet around here after Aldi closes at 10pm," he said.

Fr Pat alerted the gardaí and the area was forensically tested for clues.

One positive aspect has been the public outpouring of support, according to Fr Pat.

"There's been a huge outpouring of good wishes to us. People have phoned and called in to us to see if we're alright and offer support. We're very much at the heart of the community here. We stretch out and reach out to them in all their ups and downs and they want to support us as well," he said.

"They're part of our family. We thank God that it all could have been so much worse and no one was hurt. We appreciate the promptness and professionalism of the Gardaí in every way," he said.

"We'll have to look at our own security and that of the church now in light of what's happened," he added.

Sligo Champion

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