Man jailed for raiding 17 churches and stealing thousands

Published
Image source, Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption,
After his arrest Mihaita Rosca gave police treasure map-style directions to find a buried hoard of stolen items

A man who broke into 17 churches and caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage has been jailed.

Mihaita Rosca, 26, entered most of the churches by breaking stained glass windows with rocks, and stole money from collections and charity boxes.

He admitted 13 burglaries in Devon and Dorset and asked for three more in East Anglia and four in London to be taken into consideration.

He was jailed for two years at Exeter Crown Court.

Rosca, from Romania, also took computers and other electrical equipment and was caught after he left fingerprints on church items.

He used the stolen money to pay for a summer holiday, the court heard.

Buried hoard

He started his crime wave in Weymouth, Dorset, then moved to Devon, where he targeted churches in Sidmouth, Exmouth, Exeter, Tavistock, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth.

He then travelled to Suffolk where he raided churches at Henstead, Beccles and Ipswich before raiding three more churches in London.

After his arrest he gave police treasure map-style directions to find a buried hoard of stolen items in a field in Okehampton.

Recorder Mr James Freeman told him: "You had nowhere to go in this country and no money so you chose to break into churches."

Mr Paul Grumbar, defending, said Rosca first moved to Britain three years ago.

He went to live with his mother in Italy early in 2017 and when he returned to England he found himself with no money, no friends and no home, and turned to crime.

He said: "I asked him why he burgled churches and he said it was because he knew there would be nobody there. There was no method. He was simply stealing to maintain himself."

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