“I think these belong to you”

St Giles Church in Desborough enjoyed “a Christmas miracle” during the festive season when stolen silverware from the church turned up in a neighbour’s garden! The discovery was made during a TV interview about the burglary. St Giles’ Assistant Priest, the Revd Canon Neil Clarke, takes up the story: “We were filming a piece for ITV Anglia News when a person who lives near the church walked in with a plastic shopping bag and said ‘I think these belong to you’! All of the lost items were in there. It was amazing. He just saw the bag over the fence at the end of his garden.” The items in question had been part of the fabric of the church for generations, including one item from the 16th century. “We had lost three silver chalices – the oldest we believe is from 1577, the other two were donations from the 1960s. There was also a metal chalice, two silver patens, one metal paten, a silver ciborium and a silver flagon.”

The robbery was the second of two thefts to take place at St Giles during December, and it was Neil who discovered that the church had been burgled once again. “The previous break-in was on 13th December. During the first break-in, one safe was damaged and two doors. Other than that, there was no loss,” explains Neil. “But when I went to the church at 8.45am on Monday 30th December to prepare some wedding returns, I found the church had been broken into for a second time.” This time, the damage to the church was far more substantial, and ongoing repairs are needed. “Two safes were broken into and are not able to be repaired. The church main door, back door and vestry door were also broken and need repair. The thieves also took £107 in cash. It’s thought to be the same criminals that came back for the in safe.”

But this begs the question of why the thieves left the silverware behind – an outcome which has baffled both Neil and the police. “We initially thought the objects would be melted down for their scrap value. The items may have been left to collect later. Maybe they were abandoned because they thought that they could not be sold. The police have no thoughts on that. Either way, we’re delighted at the recovery – a Christmas miracle.” Northamptonshire Police remain on the lookout for the perpetrators of the break-ins. Anyone with information or who may have witnessed this incident is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.