A have-a-go vicar saved the day when he collared a thief trying to steal some charity boxes from a neighbouring chemist in Brightlingsea.

Saving the day - the Rev Richard Salenius, holding the returned charity boxes, with David Ross, of Moss Pharmacy. Picture: TERRY WEEDEN (20346-7)

The Rev Richard Salenius, of St James' Church, Brightlingsea, was on his way home at 11.30pm last night, when the thief struck at Moss Chemist, Victoria Place.

Mr Salenius said: "I had just passed the chemist and there was someone in the doorway. I heard this bang from the glass window going and I went back to have a look."

He said he saw a man inside the front window taking the four charity boxes out. But the thief didn't have a prayer when Mr Salenius decided to give chase.

Mr Salenius, who is celebrating his 45th birthday today, lost his glasses in the chase and when he got to a dark spot in the road he couldn't see the thief very well.

Mr Salenius, who has been the vicar at St James for six years, said he got on his mobile and called 999 and within three or four minutes a police dog unit was on the scene.

But the angels were looking down and when he returned to the chemist's another police dog unit had found the charity boxes in the grounds of St Sabina's Church.

Police appealed for anyone with information to contact them on 01255 221312 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111

Published Thursday, March 21, 2002