Dismayed/perplexed at church theft/vandalism

On Saturday night, there was a break-in at our local village church - they tore off and stole the altar cloth, as well as throwing a few other items around.

As far as I know, nothing else of value has been taken. The altar cloth - a piece of hand-embroidered purple velvet - is expensive, but not valuable (in that it can’t really be used for much else, or sold or anything).

Just can’t quite understand why someone would do this - my best guess at the moment is drunken idiots daring each other to do something conspicuously outrageous, but even then, I’d have expected more damage/disturbance in general.

I walked around the neighbourhood yesterday afternoon, hoping I’d find the cloth in a ditch or hedge somewhere, but found nothing - so maybe someone stole it because they actually wanted it for something or other. No idea what.

Some sort of trophy-taking, a bet perhaps?

Some people are just vandals. Where I live, a mini-bus used to ferry old people around has been smashed up a couple times. It’s unlikely there is an actual motive, the perps are probably mindless tossers.

I don’t know. I’d expect someone bent only on vandalism to do more serious damage, like the OP mentioned. When something is missing, my suspicion is that it was the target.

Thats really sad, and pretty pointless. At least the last break-in in our church had the thieves taking things like the sound desk. But I remember as a kid arriving at my childhood church and finding everyone cleaning up after kids had trashed the place - including defecating on the altar and organ. And it was just kids being stupid and rude - they were caught later on.

I’m guessing you have been hit by the same sort of antisocial behaviour, and someone now has the altar cloth as a “trophy”. It is a shame, because I believe churches should be open as much as possible, but security concerns mean that this cannot happen anymore. I hope they didn’t have a go at any stained glass windows, because that really breaks my heart and is much harder to sort. I find it sad that churches need to put up big wire screens on the outside of such windows to protect them.


I hate this kind of thing, so pointless. Here in the U.K., theft of lead from church roofs has become an increasing problem in the last couple or three years because of rising commodity prices. When I visited the lovely little church shown on this page last summer, there was a display about reconstruction work in progress according to which each panel of lead in the roof had been individually numbered to help with tracing after thieves stole some metal.

Back in 1975 the church I now attend, an Episcopal cathedral, was burned. BIG building you know, and all that was left was the stone walls. Nearly everything was lost, including all the gorgeous windows and woodcarvings.

And it was arson, not an accident. Just over three and a half years ago the other Episcopal church in town was burned. Someone broke into the sanctuary, piled up a bunch of hymnbooks, and set fire to them. They lost everything as well, and just this past December dedicated their new facility.

Heartbreaking, yes. But the outpouring of offers from other churches, offering worship space in the interim, helped with the pain. The congregation ended up accepting the offer of the local synagouge, to use their sanctuary on Sunday mornings. After all, they weren’t using it then! And then they donated the lectionary in the new facility the church built.

There’s 5 pages of listings for “altar cloth” on ebay. Perhaps someone thought it is valuable and is trying to sell it.

If my extensive experience in tv-watching is at all accurate, then you can bet your bottom dollar that that altar cloth was the final ingredient in a complicated MacGyver-esque demon summoning ritual, and he stole your altar cloth because it has some sort of unique signature that will be traced back to your church, which he’s trying to pin the blame on. But fear not! For when you hour seems bleakest, a young churchgoer who is uncannily insightful will single-handedly discover the perpetrator by remembering seemingly irrelevant other things covered in the past half-hour (+ cuts).

The lead was stolen off the roof of this church a couple of years back - and from the roof of the school opposite. The new lead on the church is treated with smart water and the school has non-lead flashing now.