BURGLARS stole valuable brass ware from a church altar in Bradford.

The raiders left flowers strewn over the floor after emptying them out of their vases.

Files and cupboards were ransacked and two doors broken during the burglary at Northcliffe Shipley Methodist and United Reformed Church.

Items stolen included an inscribed brass cross and two brass collection plates, taken from the altar, and six large brass flower vases. Also taken was a printer, data projector and microphones.

It is the second burglary at the church in 12 months.

The Church’s Senior Elder, Tim Billingsley, described the theft from the altar as “a desecration of a sacred space”.

He said: “It is a lack of respect. At first I was angry, but now I feel disappointed that someone has grown up to have that lack of respect.”

He said he was alerted last Sunday morning when the steward opened the premises, on Bradford Road, Shipley, for the service.

“They had gained access into the chapel area through a door, stolen all the brass ware and thrown the flowers out of the brass vases onto the floor.

“They had ripped our amplifier from the wall, damaging it beyond repair.

“Downstairs, they had broken down two doors and ransacked the Minister’s office, stealing his printer.

“They got into another room, ransacked drawers, leaving stuff all over the floor, and stole a small safe from a cupboard.

“We don’t know what the value of everything is, but the brass vases were each worth £300.”

Mr Billingsley said: “We have a church that people are welcome to come into.

“We don’t ask questions about their background.

“Sadly, some of our visitors aren’t trustworthy and we end up reaping the consequences.”

But he added: “That won’t stop us being a welcoming church.”

Mr Billingsley urged the public to keep their eyes open for the stolen items.

He said: “I am hoping that dealers won’t touch them because of what they are, and they will be found dumped somewhere.

“If we get them back it will be a bonus.”

Anyone with information should contact the Shipley Area Neighbourhood Team on the non-emergency number, 101, quoting crime reference 13160349522, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.