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Helmsdale minister praises local couple who foiled church break-in


By Caroline McMorran


A HELMSDALE minister has publicly thanked a local couple who foiled a late-night attempted break-in at his church.

Free Church minister Rev Roddy MacRae praised Bob and Janette Yuill for their “willingness” to investigate after spotting someone at the church door after midnight.

Helmsdale Free Church was one of two Sutherland churches targeted at the weekend. There was also an incident at Dornoch Cathedral.
Helmsdale Free Church was one of two Sutherland churches targeted at the weekend. There was also an incident at Dornoch Cathedral.

Crane driver Mr Yuill confronted the person and scared him away while his wife made a note of his car registration number and called police.

Helmsdale Free Church was one of two Sutherland churches targeted at the weekend – there was also an attempted break-in at Dornoch Cathedral.

Rev MacRae thanked the Yuills - who live close to the church in Glebe Terrace - on social media.

Speaking to the Northern Times on Wednesday, the minister said that shift-worker Mr Yuill had been unable to sleep, so had stepped outside and spotted a light on at the church at 1.20am on Sunday.

“Bob saw an outside light on at the church and thought it was a bit weird. Then he heard a bang,” said Rev MacRae. “He moved to his left for a better view and that’s when he saw someone at the church door.

“Bob went round to the door and said: ‘Hey, can I help you?’ The guy made some excuse and got into a car and went off round the back of the nearby fire station.

“The church’s sensor lights then came on and Bob saw that the double glazed window unit in the door was broken.

“He had already told Janette before going to the church and she was standing at her front door when the guy left, and she got his car registration number and then phoned the police.”

Rev MacRae added: “The man involved was carrying a bag. Who knows what his intentions were, but if he had not been noticed he may very well have got into the building.

“Bob had the willingness to go across to find out what was happening - he was inquisitive and not prepared to let it go and we want to thank him and Janette.”

Church of Scotland authorities have confirmed there was an attempted break-in at Dornoch Cathedral that weekend.

A spokesman said: “Someone tried to get in, but could not get the door open.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “A 45-year-old man has been charged in connection with an attempted break-in at Helmsdale Free Church on Sunday, February 23. He will appear in court at a later date.

Enquiries are ongoing into reports of damage caused at a church building in Dornoch during the weekend.”

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