Burglars caused a trail of damage as they ransacked a church building before stealing cash.
Community activities had to be cancelled or restricted after the offenders broke into Hindley Green Methodist Church on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 9.
Three doors were wrecked as the burglars, who smashed a window to gain entrance, searched rooms for money or valuable items before taking a small amount of cash from the church’s vestry.
Senior leaders at the Leigh Road place of worship said they were relieved the offenders had not managed to get into the sanctuary where services are held and urged anyone who might have seen something suspicious to come forward.
It is believed the offenders broke in some time between noon and 6pm, when a community group arrived at the building and found the damage.
Church secretary Elizabeth Smith said: “They seem to have gained access by smashing a window at the back and they’ve broken down doors which we lock in order to get into various rooms.
“They’ve taken some petty cash from the vestry and clearly been looking for money. The kitchen has been ransacked and various items have gone.
“The saving grace is that they haven’t gone into the sanctuary. We’re extremely upset by what has happened but that is a relief.
“We’re not sure how much damage has been done at the moment and can’t put a figure on what the cost of sorting it will be but groups we rent the church out to have been inconvenienced.
“Some events have had to be cancelled and other groups have been told there are certain rooms they can’t use because there’s smashed glass.
“I would imagine that they broke in after it was dark but I’m only speculating about that.
“We would urge anybody who might have heard or seen anything that afternoon to get in touch with the police.”
The matter has been reported to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the force has now begun an investigation into the break-in.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact police on 101 or ring independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.