Graffiti spelling out ‘help me’ has been sprawled across a Sunderland church as nearby residents say antisocial behaviour in the area is on the rise.
Black graffiti which reads ‘help me’ has been sprayed on the front of the Sunderland Spiritualist Church, in Grange Terrace, between 9.15pm and 9.45pm on Monday night.
The community has lashed out at an increase in antisocial behaviour in the area with gangs of youths gathering behind the back of the church.
Police say they are aware of the incident and are investigating.
Steve Hutchinson, of the spiritualist church, was alerted to the graffiti during a service on Monday evening - the second incident in a matter of weeks.
Yobs also targeted the rear of the church with yellow spray paint no more than two weeks earlier.
Steve, treasurer at the church, said: “I’m totally disgusted. For it to happen at all is bad enough but to do it to a church they’ve just got to have no respect.
“There’s been a lot of antisocial behavior in the area recently with groups congregating out the back of the church.
“Some people don’t feel safe coming here.”
Similar graffiti, which saw the words ‘help me’ tagged onto walls in the Plains Farm area, led to the launch of a criminal damage inquiry by Northumbria Police earlier this year.
Residents in the area have also spoken about some people are worried to come home at night in fear of the gangs.
Patrick McDonough, who lives near the church, said: “The antisocial behaviour in the area is getting worse.
“We’ve got people coming into the area - groups of 15 to 20 kids - on a night drinking, swearing, throwing litter, shouting at people and causing bother.
“I saw the graffiti on the church and I alerted Steve to it. It’s really sad to do it to a church of all places.
“It never use to be like this, it use to be a pretty chilled out area. Now people are afraid to walk home alone.
“The graffiti is just one of the aspects that comes with antisocial behaviour like this.”
A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said the authority is aware of the graffiti.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we received a report of graffiti at the Sunderland Spiritualist Church in Grange Terrace that took place between 9.15am and 10pm on Monday evening.
“Inquiries into the vandalism are ongoing and anyone who knows the person responsible should contact police on 101 quoting log 1169 29/04/19.”