Parishioner's home is ransacked while she attends church service
An elderly parishioner's delight at being present at a special ceremony to welcome a new clergyman was shattered when she returned home to discover her home had been ransacked during a break-in.
The woman had gone to St Canice's Church of Ireland in Eglinton, Co Londonderry, for the institution of Rev Paul Hoey.
It was a big event for the church as it ended a two-and-a-half year vacancy in the parish.
But her joy turned to despair when she went home on Friday night to discover thieves had ransacked every room of her house.
She was "extremely shaken" and had to be comforted by parishioners.
Rev Hoey, the Rector of Faughanvale, visited the woman afterwards and condemned those responsible for the break-in.
He said: "This was a despicable crime against a devoted member of our parish and this community.
"Quite apart from the theft, the sense of violation in such incidents can be extremely traumatic for victims, particularly older people.
"Such crimes are deplorable at any time, but it was particularly upsetting for the victim of this incident that her home was broken into while she was in church, attending a service.
"I am grateful that fellow parishioners responded - as Christians should - in such a caring and compassionate way. I have assured the victim that she will have our support and be in our prayers in the days ahead.
"I pray, also, that the person or persons responsible for the break-in will experience a change of heart and see the error of their ways. They, too, need our prayers.
"I appeal for anyone with information about the break-in to give it to the police and I hope that the perpetrators are apprehended as quickly as possible."
Rural Dean for the area, Rev Canon Derek Creighton, who attended Friday's Institution, also condemned the incident.
Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: "I condemn this despicable act. To target anybody's home, but especially when they are partaking in an act of worship, is particularly despicable. I would call on anybody with information to contact the PSNI."
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.