BURGLARS struck at a church overnight in a crime that police say "defies belief".

The break in happened at St Peter's Church, on Broad Oak Road and led to Sunday services having to be cancelled.

A member of the clergy discovered the church had been broken into this morning.

Crooks attempted to steal the safe, but it was found, still locked, in the grounds of the church.

But a brass collection plate and a brass bible stand were stolen and damage was caused to the church by the offenders.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Unsworth, said: "It defies belief that someone has targeted the church,which is a focal point of the community.

"As a result of damage caused to the church the Sunday services were cancelled.

"I would appeal to anyone who has information to contact us so we can find those responsible and return the stolen items to the church.”

Detectives are appealing for witnesses to the burglary that happened some time between 9pm on Saturday, July 19 and 9am on Sunday, July, 20.

Contact St Helens CID on 0151 777 6013, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.