Man charged with breaking into Devon churches, including Crediton Parish Church

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Tuesday 22nd May 2018 9:05 am
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Serious damage was caused during a break-in at Crediton Parish Church last June. AQ 0341 ()

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POLICE have charged a man in connection with a number of burglaries at churches across Devon, including Crediton Parish Church.

Homeless Mihaita Rosca, aged 25 from Shrewsbury, has been charged with 13 counts of burglary.

Most of the break-ins took place during June and early July last year.

The charges are in connection to a number of alleged burglaries and thefts at the following locations: St John’s Church in Weymouth; St Michael and All Angels Church in Exeter; St Thomas Church in Exeter; Holy Cross Church in Crediton; Methodist Church in Torrington; Catholic Church in Tavistock; St Andrew’s Church in Newton Abbot; All Saints Parish Church in Newton Abbot; St Michael’s Church in Teignmouth; Holy Trinity Church in Exmouth; St Giles and St Nicholas Church in Sidmouth.

It was during the early hours of Thursday, June 29, that a break-in occurred at Crediton Parish Church.

Damage was estimated as “well into four figures”.

WINDOW SMASHED

While it is believed nothing was taken during the break-in, considerable damage was caused including a leaded window, floorboards and internal doors, including a 500-years-old door.

A spokesman for Crediton Parish Church told the “Courier” on the day of the break-in: “At this time we are unsure if or what has been taken but a lot of cupboards and rooms were broken into and there was an attempt to gain access to another by ripping up floorboards.

“Quite a lot of damage has been caused and it will probably mean we will have to make an insurance claim.”

Police forensic staff visited the church during the morning, when it remained closed.

The spokesman said a few weeks later: “Thanks to the recently upgraded and expanded CCTV coverage at the church the Police have some good night vision images from a variety of locations in the church.

“A review of physical security measures is underway and a number of improvements have already been made.”

Crediton Bowling Club was also broken-into during the same morning when windows were smashed to gain entry and bags were rifled and items taken.

ON GUARD

The Diocese of Exeter alerted all its churches to be on their guard immediately after the break-ins in July.

It said, last July, that all the break-ins took place during a two-week period.

It said that huge damage, estimated to run into tens of thousands of pounds had been done to stained glass windows and internal doors and cupboards, as the culprit or culprits sought computers and other valuables.

In July Louise Bartlett, senior Church Buildings Adviser for the Diocese of Exeter, said: “In each case, the perpetrator is breaking in through stained glass windows and damaging doors to try and find valuables like computers and projectors.

“The damage done to some of our historic churches has been extensive.

“It is very upsetting that our churches, which are at the centre of their communities and serve and support so many community groups and individuals, are being targeted in this way. We are alerting all our churches to be on their guard and do all they can to remove valuables from the premises.”

JUNE DATE

In addition to the church break-ins, Rosca has also been charged in connection to thefts alleged to have taken place at The Beachcomber Café and Adventure Golf in Teignmouth.

Rosca appeared at Exeter Magistrates on May 18, and has been remanded until his next court appearance which is at Exeter Crown Court on June 21.

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