SENIOR churchmen have condemned break-ins and vandalism to two places of worship in the city centre.
St Patrick’s Church on Cowgate was targeted in the early hours of Thursday, when “at least two thieves” smashed windows and broke a valuable crucifix.
The pair also stole some clergy clothing and made off with cash from a charity box for the poor.
At some point between 10pm on Wednesday and 8am on Thursday, St Columba’s Free Church was also raided.
The office at the rear of the Johnston Terrace church was trashed and thieves stole a three-figure sum of cash from the safe.
Clerics at both churches said they were horrified to discover they had become a target for crime.
Monsignor Philip Kerr, of St Patrick’s Church, said he “felt sorry” for the crooks who had been driven to breaking into a church.
He said: “Some items of church furniture have been moved around and they vandalised a crucifix. They threw it on the floor and the figure was broken. It is the sort of damage which is not respectful in a place of worship.”
Msgr Kerr, who said he was not sure how much the crucifix was worth, is hopeful that the arms of the figure can be repaired.
He said the disappearance of a set of vestments was a more bizarre side to the crime.
A charity collection box for the St Vincent de Paul society, a Christian group which tries to tackle poverty, was also raided.
“It was there so the parishioners could get access to it, but it didn’t have too much cash in it,” said Msgr Kerr.
“I feel sorry for the people really, that are driven to that sort of thing.”
Reverend Derek Lamont of St Columba’s Free Church said: “It’s a sad day when people start stealing from churches.
“It was so unpleasant for the staff who work there to find such a mess in the morning. The safe was opened and the drawers had been rifled through.
“We are hoping they will have a tinge of conscience.”
Officers are now appealing for anyone who was in the area of the High Street, Cowgate and Johnston Terrace on Wednesday evening and into Thursday morning to contact them immediately.
Pc Chris Green said: “Considerable damage was done during these break-ins and we are keeping an open mind as to whether they are linked. If anyone has information that can assist with our inquiries, they are urged to contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”