Funeral-goer’s car is targeted by thieves

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Funeral-goer’s car is targeted by thieves thumbnailRobin Johnston, sexton of Cappagh Parish Church, beside the church car park wall which was damaged overnight on Thursday last.

SHOCK and anger has been expressed after a funeral-goer's car was broken into during a burial service at Cappagh Parish Church graveyard at the weekend.

The 'despicable' incident took place at around 4pm on Saturday when a window of a silver Vauxhall car was smashed and a handbag taken from the vehicle, which was located in a car park outside the church on the Cappagh Road, near Omagh. The thieves made off with a small quantity of cash, as well as a number of credit cards.

It comes only two days after a wall in the same car park was substantially damaged by what is believed to have been a reckless driver. The area has been misused by 'little boy racers' for years, it has been claimed, and there are fears someone could lose their life if such activity continues.

Speaking to the Tyrone Constitution, the rector of the church, Canon Derek Quinn, said "opportunists" were responsible for the car break-in. It is understood the owner had only been away from their vehicle for around 15 minutes.

"Targeting a car within church property is bad enough, but to carry out such an action while the owner is attending a funeral service is absolutely despicable," he added.

"It's very, very sad that someone has had to resort to such activity but it's not the first time it has happened - similar break-ins have occurred at other churches in the area in the past and so it is important people remain vigilant - sadly even while attending such an event.


"I would encourage anyone with any information to bring it forward to the police."

Also condemning the incident was West Tyrone MLA., Tom Buchanan, who described the perpetrators as the "lowest of the low".

"It makes me wonder just how low some people are willing to stoop - it really begs belief," he added. "In this day and age people simply have to be vigilant - we cannot allow this type of crime to continue."

Mr Buchanan said there was a "worrying trend of burglaries and thefts ongoing in the local area" which he has spoken to the police about.

"There have been far too many car break-ins and house burglaries recently and I would call on the authorities to implement a strategy to prohibit this type of activity."

Meanwhile, police continue to investigate criminal damage caused to the wall of the church car park, which is understood to have happened sometime overnight on Thursday.

Canon Quinn said the car park has been targeted by "little boy racers" who have been performing "doughnuts" damaging the surface and engaging in other anti-social behaviour in the area since the park it was re-developed in 2011. The total cost to fix the wall is approximately £1,000.

"It is incredibly frustrating but there's also grave concern about the real possibility that someone may lose their life if such activity continues," he said.

Such is the extent of the problem that the church is seriously considering the introduction of CCTV cameras in the area.


"I would utterly condemn anyone using this car park as a racing track," said Mr Buchanan.

"A few years ago, the then Omagh district councillor, Charlie Chittick, and I attended the area to assess the damage 'little boy racers' had caused to the car park which was newly tarred. It's sad that this is an issue the church is still facing.

"Those responsible need to realise that this property belongs to the church and a substantial amount of money has been spent in developing this car park.

"There is also a real possibility that this kind of activity will cost someone their life and that could be an innocent bystander or the passenger in the car - that is something the driver would have to live with for the rest of their lives."

Concluding, Mr Buchanan called on those responsible to do "the honourable and decent thing" - by giving themselves up to the police.

"There is no question that you will be caught if you continue to engage in this type of behaviour," he added.

Police are appealing to anyone that may have any information on either incident to contact Omagh Police Station on the non-emergency number 101. Or, alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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