Priest issues appeal after items stolen from hearse
A parish priest in Londonderry has urged a thief who stole a mobile phone and a coffin clamp from a hearse to leave the items back in a confessional box anonymously.
The phone belonging to an undertaker and clamp that keeps the coffin in place in the hearse were taken from the vehicle as it sat outside St Mary's Church in the city's Creggan estate on Friday. The thief struck as a funeral Mass was being held inside the church.
Fr Joseph Gormley appealed for the stolen items to be left inside the church or handed to a community worker in the area.
He said: "We just want to get the items back. We want to put it out there that if the person wants to leave the items back, they can leave them in a confessional box in the church."
Undertaker Willie O'Brien said that the thief had been "disrespectful".
"When my undertakers brought the coffin back out to the hearse after the funeral they discovered that the clamp to hold the coffin in place had been stolen. It was a metal clamp, it looks like silver. Perhaps someone thought it was worth something, but it is for hearses, so it would be no good to anybody.
"When my staff looked in the front of the hearse they discovered that one of the men's phones was also missing.
"We didn't lock the hearse outside the church. You don't ever think you need to. Whoever did this was very disrespectful to the grieving family and also to themselves."
The PSNI is investigating and has appealed for witnesses.