Larne church-goers leaving morning worship on Sunday found that their cars had been damaged in an act of wanton vandalism.
Seven vehicles were maliciously scored close to St Cedma’s Church of Ireland.
The owners – including recently appointed trainee cleric Heather Cook – returned to their vehicles to discover that paintwork had been scratched with a blade.
The vehicles had been parked at Inver Road and at the war memorial car park nearby between 10am and 11am.
Police are said to believe the attack was random, but it happened just days after a vehicle was similarly scored outside the Gospel Hall at Curran Road.
Mrs Cooke, a training curate, who has been assisting at St Cedma’s since February, said: “Everyone was very upset, for me, in particular. Everyone has been really friendly and supportive.”
Rector of St. Cedma’s, the Venerable Stephen Forde added: “For anybody whose car has been damaged, it is very upsetting for them. You would like to think that when you are at a church service, your property would be safe.
“The fact that our training minister’s car was attacked has damaged the image of our town in a wider community and we do not want that.
“Some of the damage was quite severe. I am not quite sure whether it was mindless vandalism, or more deliberate. We do not have a car park, although we have access to a car park at the war memorial. Somebody made the effort to go into the car park to do this.”
Andy Wilson, deputy chairman of the Policing Community Safety Partnership, whose car was damaged while he was in the church, said: “I would not even begin to attribute a motive but I know that something similar happened outside the Gospel Hall.”
The PSNI is asking anyone who was in the area at the time and who noticed any suspicious activity or who has any information which may be of assistance to their investigation, to contact them in Larne on 0845 600 8000. To provide information without giving your details, ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.