BURGLARS forced their way into a church and a pub garden and caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

They took tools from the Chapelhay Tavern and broke a vestry window at the Hope United Reformed Church in Weymouth.

A Dorset Police spokesman said the break-ins – which took place on the same night – could be linked and forensic teams have been searching for clues at both crime scenes.

Church elder Geoff Tizzard-King spent hours after the break-in cleaning up the mess and said a replacement window will cost £230 – which will have to come from church funds.

The targeting of the Trinity Street church comes less than a month after nearly £200 was stolen following an operatic concert at the church.

Mr Tizzard-King said: “When I opened up the church yesterday morning I wondered where the mud on the carpet had come from and I saw the phone in the vestry was off the hook. I felt a draught and looked up and could see a big hole in the window.

“I thought, ‘Here we go again,’ – it’s awful after we had money stolen from us recently.”

Unsuccessful attempts had been made to break into the church’s safes and the intruders left empty-handed.

Mr Tizzard-King said entry was gained to the vestry through a small window which is accessible through an alley way.

“They got through an extremely tiny hole.

“Because of the size of the window and the fact that this is toughened glass, it is going to cost £230 to replace.

“There has been a spate of these incidents in the area.

“We’re still remaining upbeat but it’s a real shame.

“We haven’t got anything worth stealing here,” he said.

Chapelhay Tavern landlord Chris Baker was asleep above the pub when the burglars forced their way through the beer garden fence.

They damaged the lock to the beer cellar and broke into two sheds.

Mr Baker said: “I haven’t counted up the total damage yet but they have taken a number of tools, including an angle grinder.

“I didn’t hear anything when I was upstairs during the night.”

“It’s the upheaval that these people have caused – it’s ridiculous.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said the force had calls reporting the break-ins from the church and the pub yesterday morning.

She said: “The break-in occurred at the church between 10pm and 9am on Thursday night.

“A window in the vestry was smashed and nothing was taken.

“We had a call from the Chapelhay Tavern at 8.38am where there the door to the bottle store was locked and was forced open on Thursday night. Electrical tools were taken.

“Police are keeping an open mind about whether these matters are linked.”

Anyone with information should call Dorset Police on 101.