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Police have arrested six people in connection with an arson and theft at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight.
The incident happened at around 5.30pm yesterday evening, when parishioners attending the church found the altar to be ablaze and two crucifix missing.
The congregation were able to extinguish the fire before police arrived.
Officers searched the area and recovered one of the missing crucifixes, which was undamaged. The second remains outstanding at this time.
Six males, an 18-year-old from Ryde, 23-year-old from Sandown, and a 15-year-old 20-year-old, 24-year-old and 28-year-old all from Newport, have since been arrested on suspicion of arson andtheft. They remain in custody at this time.
Newport District Inspector Nick Heelan, said: “This incident does not appear to be politically motivated and we’re not looking at domestic extremism. This is just a very unfortunate incident which will clearly impact on the community attending St Mary’s.
“It was lucky in this case that parishioners were able to extinguish the fire safely before it could spread.
“I’d now appeal for anyone who saw this incident or any suspicious activity in the area just before or after 5.30pm, to contact police on the Isle of Wight immediately.”
Anyone with any information should call Hampshire Constabulary on 101.. Alternatively, call the Crimestoppers charity helpline on 0800 555 111 where information can be submitted anonymously.