THIEVES targeted a Wirral church when they took a 50 inch plasma television used for a special youth club.

Rev Roy Cullen, who runs the Youth Interlink Club at Grange Baptist and Chinese Church, in Borough Road, Birkenhead, was shocked to discover the £600 TV had been taken on Saturday night.

The television had been bought with community funding from the Grass Root Grant and had only been in use for about two weeks.

Around 80 young people, aged 13-19 years old, crowded into the church at the weekend to watch the new series of the X Factor and make use of the pool tables and activities on offer at the club.

But when Rev Cullen arrived on Sunday morning for worship, he found that the TV had been unhooked off the wall and empty beer cans were strewn across the floor.

He said: "It is just awful to think to that these people broke in here and took something from the teenagers who come here.

The youth club has been a roaring success since its launch and we have never had any problems.

"We welcome kids from all over and they can just come here to socialise and hang out with friends in a safe environment. It is our way of tackling anti-social behaviour and we try to bring these young people in here so they don't have to hang round on street corners."

Now Rev Cullen is hoping the TV can be replaced and the youth club can resume normal activity, but the incident has highlighted worries about security measures.

Rev Cullen said: "We obviously need to step up our security so that this sort of thing does not happen again. But we have to keep in mind that this a church and we want to make our local community feel welcome.

"We do not want to turn our churches into fortresses."