A CHURCH break-in was foiled and the intruder sent packing, thanks to the quick actions of a local churchwarden.
Adrian Vincent surprised the would-be burglar after the man had broken into All Saints Church in Woodham, and pursued the intruder while giving directions to the police over his phone as the man fled the scene, running off into woodland.
“My wife, who is more kind than me, is praying for the man that he sees the error of his ways,” said Adrian. “While I am praying that he be brought to justice.”
The break-in was foiled on Sunday night, September 9. All Saints Church – currently holding an art exhibition of the works of local artists – had suffered several incidents of petty vandalism.
“On the previous Monday night we had a stone thrown through the church hall window, smashing it and damaging the cooker inside. On the Friday night we had a flower pot smashed and a display stamped on. On the Saturday night we had a stone thrown smashing the patio window of the church room where our Art Exhibition is being held,” Adrian said.
“So, on the Sunday night I sat in the church room with the lights out, watching the porch which is illuminated by our security lights. I was particularly concerned to try and protect the church because we have our Art Exhibition on at the moment. Also, the church doesn’t have the money to keep paying the excess on our insurance policy for repairs after every incident.”
Around 8.30pm he saw a man with dark hair, about 20 years old, 5ft 10in, with slim build and a yellow draw-string bag over his shoulders.
“He started looking round for a stone, and I called the police. He couldn’t find a stone on the patio because I had earlier that day replaced the pebble border with gravel,” said the vigilant churchwarden. “I rang 999 and the man walked round the back of the church and returned with a stone. While I was on the phone to the police, he threw a stone which smashed the outer pane of one of our other patio doors. He then threw another stone which broke the glass of our church door.
“He stepped through the door into the church and then saw me in the room on the phone. I said ‘excuse me, I don’t think you should be in here’ and he jumped back through the broken door and ran off.
“I followed after him, giving directions to the police on the phone. He ran off down the woodland path beside the church, which leads to the Sands pub, but I didn’t have my torch with me and didn’t want to follow him through dark woodlands.”
The police arrived shortly after and took a statement, and arranged for the broken pane to be boarded up.
Thanks to Adrian’s quick actions, the art exhibition at All Saints – displaying the evocative oil landscapes and drawings of Richard Head and the vibrant abstracts of Niul Foat – remained open to visitors. The final day for viewing is Saturday 15 September, from 11am-5.30pm – entry is free and refreshments are available, with a guided tour of the church as well as part of Heritage Open Days. Visit www.allsaintswoodham.org.uk for details.