More than 40 villagers on the Herøya peninsular called the police after the bells began to chime at 3am on Thursday night, but by the time the officers arrived, the thieves had vanished, leaving most if not all of the loot they had collected behind.
“They were evidently in a hurry to get away once the bells started ringing,” Aud Bergheim, the local vicar, told NRK.
She said that she had found a chaotic mess inside the church by the time she arrived, with papers strewn all over the floor and the baptismal font overturned.
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Police found a painting outside the church and a crucifix in some nearby bushes.