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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 11:41 GMT
Rector chases youths after theft
Rev Bill Stuart-White
Rev Stuart-White said he was "saddened" by what happened
A Cornish rector chased a group of teenagers who fled from a church after alledgedly stealing a woman's handbag.

Other items are also said to have been taken from the vestry of the Church of St Martin and St Meriadoc in Camborne on Sunday night.

The Reverend Bill Stuart-White said some youths requested a hymn, then snatched the handbag and fled.

Two girls, aged 15 and 16, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested and have been released on bail.

They are due to return to Camborne police station on Friday 3 March.

There was a lot of hilarity among the congregation at me in full robes pursuing thieves down the street
Reverend Bill Stuart-White

The rector said a group of teenagers arrived late for the service and were made welcome.

He said: "They chose a hymn, the Lord is My Shepherd, and we sang it with them."

The 47-year-old said a lady in the 25-strong congregation noticed her handbag was missing shortly after the teenagers left.

"Myself and one of the ladies set off in pursuit. She went one way and I took a short cut because I knew where they would come out, and they ran into me.

"There was a lot of hilarity among the congregation at me in full robes pursuing thieves down the street, but it turned slightly less hilarious when it was realised other things had been taken," he said.

Mr Stuart-White, the rector at the church for seven years, said he was "saddened" by what had happened and felt the congregation's trust had been "betrayed".

The woman's handbag was retrieved.

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