Festival theft setback for village project

Thieves have dealt a blow to a Huntingdonshire village s plans for a community meeting place. While the organisers were distracted, they snatched the £300 takings from the bi-annual flower festival in St Peter s Church, Kings Ripton. The money, which was

Thieves have dealt a blow to a Huntingdonshire village's plans for a community meeting place.

While the organisers were distracted, they snatched the £300 takings from the bi-annual flower festival in St Peter's Church, Kings Ripton.

The money, which was taken between 1-2pm on Sunday, July 9, would have gone towards repairing the church floor to create the community area lacking in the village, which has a population of about 170.

Rector of the Riptons, the Rev Brian Atling, said: "It's a very simple flower festival and virtually everyone in the village does something.

"They usually struggle to make any money at all, so this year's had been a very successful weekend. They had just finished counting the money when some visitors asked a question, which caused a moment's distraction and the money was swiped."

He said the distraction had been a genuine inquiry and was not connected with the theft, and the organisers had "a pretty good idea" who took the money.

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He added: "The person involved was mortified but it wasn't his fault. He was distracted for only a couple of seconds. They were very careful when the money was counted but you don't expect to need Group 4 Security in a small rural church.

"The whole village rallied round. We always auction the flowers afterwards and people made very generous bids to compensate."

Mr Atling said the police were brilliant. "As a precaution, they alerted colleagues to go to Houghton (where he is also rector) where Feast Week was taking place."

Police said the two suspects were men aged between 21 and 40. One was 6ft, slim, with long light brown hair and was wearing a brown suede jacket. The other was 5ft 4in, stocky, with black cropped hair, and wearing a denim jacket and blue trousers.

Pc Dave West, from the crime and incident management unit at March police station, said: "We are appealing for anyone who was at the festival at the time and saw anything suspicious to contact police."

INFORMATION: Contact Pc West on 0845 4564564 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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