MORE than £1,000 has been raised by villagers in Theale in a bid to protect a church from a recent rise in antisocial behaviour.

Residents have said that 'ongoing vandalism' has affected Holy Trinity Church, based on Church Street.

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The petition, which so far has raised £1,350 to go towards repairs and extra security, reads: "Theale in the main is a very peaceful and respectable place to live, where every resident should be able to feel safe and not intimidated.

"It’s upsetting that this vandalism is happening and this type of behaviour cannot continue.

"Something needs to be done about the antisocial behaviour and criminal damage and one way to nip this in the bud would be to install security cameras so that we can catch the culprits in the act.

"It will hopefully also deter further vandalism to the church and grounds."

A Facebook post by the church highlighted in June some of the vandalism taking place, describing it as "unpleasant" and "aggressive."

The church said that the behaviour has left people feeling vulnerable and upset.

It reads: "There is a group of around 10 young people hanging around there most days and we ask that if you know any of them, please ask them to stop and respect the churchyard and others.

"Only a few months ago our 200 year old tower door was kicked in for 'fun' and we don't want it to happen again.

"If you don't know them, we ask that you don't go up to them because, after today's experience by a concerned resident, they were so rude and aggressive they left her and her children very frightened."

Just yesterday (August 2), a resident reported more vandalism to a local Facebook group, saying: "The shed toilet at the church was broken into, I think, last night.

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"It is just sheer vandalism.

"Is there some thrill in throwing a watering can through the broken window. I don't get it."

Thames Valley Police and Theale Parish Council have been contacted for information.

To view the petition, click here.