Churchwardens are being asked to beef up security after a spate of church thefts across the district.

Crooks have stolen religious statues and artefacts from four churches in Purleigh, Goldhanger, Wickham Bishops and Stow Maries since the middle of February.

PC Lea Keene, of Maldon Police, said: “We would ask all churches to review their security measures and for people living near any church to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour.

“We have crime prevention tactical advisors who can be contacted via the 101 number for specialist advice on security steps that can be taken.

“We would also like to hear from any antique shops or second hand property dealers who are offered any of the distinctive items taken from these churches for sale.”

See this week's Standard - out tomorrow - for the full story.