POLICE in Crewe have slammed a ‘callous’ thief after £500 of turf was stolen from a children’s play area within a local churchyard.

Officers from Crewe neighbourhood policing team were dispatched after receiving reports of a man seen in suspicious circumstances near Coppenhall Methodist Church in Bradfield Road.

Arriving just before 1am in the early hours of Tuesday, July 8, officers found that a large portion of the lawn in the fenced off children’s play area had been removed.

Police have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of theft.

Approximately 20 square metres of expensive artificial turf has been recovered.

Community officers have returned the turf to its rightful owner, enabling nursery children to continue to use the play area.

A police spokesman described the theft as ‘callous’, while community Sergeant, Dave Levins, added: “This amounts to a selfish, thoughtless act with no respect for either the church or the many small children that this theft would have caused upset for.

“Compounded with the significant cost of the turf sitting at around £500, had we not acted swiftly to deal with this matter there could have been financial loss for the nursery alongside the inconvenience it caused.”

The man had been granted police bail pending further investigation.