A REVEREND has said she is not angry at whoever stole £56,000-worth of silverware from her church and has reminded her congregation: “we need to remember we are a community”.

The sacred items were taken from St Andrew’s Church, Droitwich, on June 26, and while a detective says he knows who committed the crime, the silver is yet to be found.

Reverend Laura Handy said: “It makes people feel vulnerable, older people particularly, it’s like their house and it’s unnerving when something so close to home like this happens.

“It reminds us that some people have gone on a direction in life which has led them down a path we probably don’t want to follow in.

“But we don’t want to lock doors, quite the opposite – we want people to be able to find a place of community in the church no matter what they’ve done.”

Detective Constable Thomas Court, who has been investigating the burglary, told the Worcester News a man who is currently in HMP Hewell has admitted to the crime.

He said the prisoner told him and colleagues where he had hidden it too, but after executing a search warrant, they found the items had been moved.

Rev’d Handy said some of the silverware was made more than 200 years ago, specifically for the church, and is used in communion services.

However, her team runs four Anglican churches in Droitwich and so temporary replacements have been borrowed for some of the items.

“It’s not quite like having your best china taken and having to use plates from IKEA, but it’s not far off,” she joked.

Speaking on Friday, she said the silverware was locked away in a cupboard in the church vestry, with the padlock having been broken off.

“They’ve opened all the boxes and taken anything that was made of silver,” she explained. “They also took guitar pedals and microphones, but they were later recovered.”

The reverend continued: “The church is open every day, there’s constant traffic – it isn’t unusual for lots of people to be in there at any one time having a quiet moment. It’s not unusual for strangers to pop in and be looking around.”

She said while most churches have a separate vestry, “often behind a big locked wooden door” – St Andrew’s is “completely open plan with just curtains separating it”.

“Churches by their very nature are in some ways vulnerable as we want to keep them open, and it doesn’t take much guessing that there are valuable items in them. You could easily put the silver pieces into a rucksack, for example and wonder back out again and blend into the surroundings.

“We had school children in here last week, and I had some coming up to me saying their great-grandmother was baptised here or their mum got married here.

Having been part of the church for three years, she said: “I’ve quickly realised that the Droitwich churches very much belong to the town – they’re not ours.

“This has left them slightly wounded,” she added.