Church conman ‘could have been stopped earlier’

Mark Proctor, aged 47, is wanted in connection with a string of thefts from vicars and churchgoers in Northamptonshire and across the country
Mark Proctor, aged 47, is wanted in connection with a string of thefts from vicars and churchgoers in Northamptonshire and across the country
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A CONMAN targeting churches across the county, including Long Buckby, could have been stopped earlier if police had issued better warnings, according to an assistant vicar.

The Rev Dr Trevor Jordan said fraudster Mark Proctor struck at St Lawrence’s Church in Long Buckby in August when a person connected to the church handed over £80 after being tricked.

Police issued details of 47-year-old Proctor on Friday. He is believed to be targeting churches or those connected with churches purporting to have lost a family member in a distant part of the country. He often requests financial aid in order to travel to identify the body of the family member, and varies his story.

Dr Jordan, assistant vicar at St Lawrence’s, said: “If there had been a warning made by other police forces, then it could have been nipped in the bud.

“It is very hard to tell apart from those people who are in genuine distress and those who are not. But any incidents of this kind are unfortunate.”

There have been 50 incidents since April with four in Northamptonshire and others in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, West Midlands and Hampshire.

He is described as a white male in his 40s, about 5ft 9ins, of slim build, with short fair hair.

PC Stuart Roberts, who is leading the case, said: “We are extremely keen to speak with this man and would urge him to make contact with us so that we can establish the full facts.

“I’m sure there are others that have taken place and people have simply not reported it to us.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.