Three London churches set on fire and graffitied with '666' symbols

St John's, Stratford(Photo: St John's, Stratford)

Police have asked locals to be vigilant after three churches in East London were the victims of arson attacks and satanic graffiti this week.

St John's Church, Stratford, suffered three arson attacks within the space of 24 hours.  The fire brigade was called in on Wednesday morning after rubbish was set on fire next to a door to the church and again when another fire was started at the same door later in the evening.  This was followed several hours later by a fire at another door to the church.  

The first two fires scarred the doors but the third fire destroyed the door completely. 

On the same day, fires were started at Cann Hall Road Baptist Church in Leytonstone, where the churchyard noticeboard was completely destroyed.  A fire at the church hall door was put out before it could cause any damage but a separate fire badly burned the front doors of the church. 

On Thursday, firemen were called in to put out a fire deliberately started at St Matthew's Church in Dyson Road, West Ham.

Graffiti was found on the doors of the three churches, including pentagrams and '666' symbols.

Reverend David Richards, Vicar of St John's Church, told the Newham Recorder: "We're taking steps to protect our doors, which we don't like doing because the green space is a wonderful resource for people, so we're hoping the person who did this will be caught as soon as possible.

"Police are investigating and we're asking everyone to be vigilant.

"We're sure someone would have seen something because it's a very public space, with buses going past every few minutes including night buses."

John Edney, church secretary at Cann Hall, told the East London and West Essex Guardian: "The board was completely destroyed as well as paintwork on two doors which are badly scarred with burn marks."

The Metropolitan Police has appealed for information and witnesses to come forward.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: "At this early stage in the investigation, the fires are being treated as suspicious and the incidents are being investigated by the North East area's Community Support Unit, who are keeping an open mind as to the motive."

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting CAD2459/19JUN or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.