Vandals have caused hundreds of pounds of damage to three Kingston churches in an apparent triple raid.
Historic stain-glass windows were smashed, cupboards were ransacked and vestments were left scattered as the hoodlums searched for cash and valuables.
The break-ins, at St Luke’s Church in Gibbon Road, St Paul’s in Queen’s Road and the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Penrhyn Road, all happened on Friday night.
A church in Twickenham was also targetted and police now believe all four break-ins to be linked.
At St Luke’s, two windows, including one stained glass one dating back to the Victorian era, were smashed, while a gold-thread vestment was damaged, cupboards were broken into and their contents strewn across the vestry office.
Keys were also stolen – forcing the church to replace all of its locks.
Father Martin Hislop said: “It was an awful thing to see. There is significant damage.
“It was very upsetting for our parishioners.
“They went into our hall, smashed our stained-glass windows, went into the vestry office and deliberately destroyed the CCTV.
“They were quite methodical. They smashed the external CCTV cameras, disconnected the monitors and smashed them as well. They knew what they were doing.
“The stained-glass windows will have to be replaced, but I suspect the biggest cost will be the replacement of every lock in the church, and our wall safe.”
The Rev Simon Coupland, of St Paul’s Church, said he believed the would-be burglar was disturbed during the break-in.
He said: “We were very fortunate. I am sure the intruder must have been disturbed.
“A window was used as means of access and a cupboard was forced open, but nothing else was damaged.”
A Kingston police spokeswoman said: “Nothing substantial was taken.
“The break-ins are being linked, but there have been no arrests to date, so inquiries are ongoing.”