Shropshire Star

Church hits crowdfunder target after shocking urination burglary

A church community has raised £1,000 to help bounce back from a break-in just before Christmas in which burglars stole bells, tore off a door and urinated in a chancel.

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St Peter's Church, Upper Arley

On the night of December 23, a group of unidentified vandals broke into St Peter's Church in Upper Arley and damaged pews, stole irreplaceable items including a set of a dozen hand bells, and urinated near the altar.

Bell ropes, the belfry clock and the donation box were also taken.

The church community has come together since the break-in, taking part in a clean-up operation and making parts of the building safe.

In addition, the church elders set up a successful crowdfunding campaign to cover the excess £1,000 on the building's insurance claim for the damage.

Now the target has been hit, attentions are turning to ensuring that it does not happen again. West Mercia Police have come in for some criticism from those at the church.

Louvain Beer, treasurer and lay minister at St Peter's, said: "We haven't heard anything at all, absolutely nothing. To say they have been tardy would be an understatement."

Speaking about the moves to install security measures at the church, Louvain added: "It's a very sad reflection, really the last thing you want is for the church to be a bit like a fortress.

"It's knocked the confidence of people going there through the day."

A picture taken many years ago of local school children with the stolen bells

Insurance will cover the damage done, but the £1,000 excess, and then subsequent security measures, all need to be paid for. St Peter's members are also looking to organise a barbecue when the weather gets warmer to aid in the fundraising push.

See the crowdfunder at

In the meantime, the public are urged to be on the lookout for the set of 12 hand bells. Louvain added that she wants to make them 'too hot to handle' so that they will be recovered.

A West Mercia Police spokesperson said in December: "Overnight of December 23/24 St Peter’s Church, in Upper Arley, north Worcestershire and the neighbouring Arley Arboretum were both broken into and vandalised.

"While inside the church, the intruders urinated in the chancel next to the alter, smashed a leaded window, damaged a piano lid and two pews, and tore off the door to the empty wall safe. They also broke into the bell tower and stole a set of hand bells. The incident is being treated as a hate crime.

"During the same night, the walls inside the arboretum were spray painted with graffiti tags and other areas daubed with white paint.

"Officers have attended the scene and are investigating. It is not yet known if the two incidents are related but it is a line of enquiry.

"Anyone who has any information is urged to call 101 or visit our website, quoting incident 177i of December 24, 2021 or report it online via our website."

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