Repentant thief gives back £2,500 silverware he stole from UK church 8 years ago

MARPLE, England -- A thief who stole a valuable silver staff from a church in northern England confessed his sins eight years later when he handed it back to the vicar.

Father Ed McKenna said the handcrafted, ceremonial staff, tipped with solid silver and worth £2,500 ($4,000), was taken from St. Martin's Church in the town of Marple during a break-in in 2004.

McKenna told the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday that a man came to the church with the ceremonial staff -- carried by churchwardens in important ceremonies -- inside a plastic bag.

"I was lost for words," McKenna said. "He handed me the bag and explained that some years ago he had broken into the church and stolen the stave [staff] and kept it in his bedroom. He said he was sorry and disappeared again quite quickly."

"He still seemed quite young and was dressed reasonably smartly. This is obviously something he did as a youngster and has been playing on his mind for some time," McKenna added. "It's a deeply treasured part of this church, and none of us thought we'd see it again, particularly after eight years."

McKenna praised the man for admitting what he had done and said the church would not take the matter any further.

Click here for more on this story from the Manchester Evening News.