Theft of laptop from Biddulph church 'a kick in teeth'
A LAPTOP containing data used to organise a town's civic events has been stolen in a break-in at a church.
Community leaders described the raid on Biddulph Methodist Church in Station Road as an attack on the whole town.
Burglars also took a camera and a small quantity of cash after smashing a window to get into the church hall, next to the main building.
Now it is offering a reward of £200 for information to help solve the crime, which happened between 9pm last Thursday and 7.15am the following day.
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The Apple Powerbook G4, along with a 17-inch Dell monitor and Freecom 500 GB hard drive, was used to store and organise get-togethers, concerts and fairs.
Around five years of work was built up on the laptop including graphic designs and contacts.
It was used by Biddulph events organiser Veronica Brown.
She also works part-time for the Methodist Church, which stages regular clubs for town groups and doubles up as a meeting place.
Town councillor Graham Swift, who attends its Friday coffee morning, said: "This is a real kick in the teeth for the community and not just the church.
"It has become a much-loved hub for many goings-on as well as doing a lot of work for charity.
"Any break-in is bad enough, but to attack a church that does such good is absolutely deplorable and is an affront to the whole of Biddulph.
"Veronica does not deserve this from such mindless people and I hope that if her laptop does turn up, the data will still be there so there's no danger of any events being interrupted."
Fellow councillor Gerald Adams added: "People and groups from all over the town are shocked that someone should have broken into the church which is the centre so many activities and good in the community.
"I just hope this reward does the trick."
The minister, the Reverend John Fisher, said: "I feel so sorry because some of the stolen items were people's personal possessions." Mrs Brown was unavailable for comment.
The thieves broke a window at the back of the church hall and their haul also included a Nikon digital camera.
A police spokesman said: "A £200 reward is being offered by the victims for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible."
Officers are appealing for anyone with information to contact PC Steve Meacock on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.