Historic church subject to third break-in in five years

St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church

A historic Scarborough church was hit by its third break-in in six years, last weekend.

St. Mary’s Church, situated on Castle Road, was subject to an attempted break-in on September 1, with other acts of vandalism also discovered the following morning.

The perpetrators caused damage the the south-facing window of the church, prising the steel mesh away from the stone work, however it is believed that the church itself was not entered.

The window, just 5ft from the ground, is currently with stained glass restorers following a previous break in, in 2016.

On that occasion, the church window was forced, with burglars entering and stealing a number of items from inside.

The third incident in recent years saw a person hide in the church on an open day, waiting until the building was locked up before stealing money and other valuables; breaking out to escape.

Church administrator Ian Shimmin condemned the actions of the perpetrators, saying: “It’s mindless. It used to be people taking led from the roof, but we’ve replaced that with steel, so anybody going up there wouldn’t get away with much.

“This time I think that whoever did this was trying to break in to steal something and was maybe disturbed by someone.

“People seem to think that churches are stuffed full of expensive silverware but the truth is, they’re not. Maybe in medieval times they were, but not anymore.

“Any silverware that we have is kept at York Minster. We don’t keep any silver, or money, on site.”

Other crimes around the area have been reported by the church, with the latest being a vandalism case that saw a large waste bin pushed down the church steps and tipped over.

“These things aren’t regular, but it does happen around the area. It’s a pain, but it’s not a major problem,” Shimmin added.

“It’s petty vandalism more than anything, louts messing around.

“There have been incidents of drug dealing suspected. You occasionally find needles and we’ve seen some suspicious looking characters around the area, but I suppose that goes for any part of the town.

Shimmin, however, expressed his concerns that, despite there being little of value in the building, any potential future break-in or act of vandalism could have great concesquences.

“It’s a Grade I listed building, it’s ancient,” he added.

“The fear with these sorts of break-ins is that people could come in and cause massive damage.

“It’s the civic church of Scarborough and a medieval building, there is so much history behind it.”