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The 4ft (1.2m) gothic revival eagle lectern, stolen from the Holy Cross Church in Ashton Keynes in September, was spotted by a Romanian man who used the internet to research a dedication plaque engraved with the name of the church. Parishioners had feared it had been melted down for scrap after thieves carried it out of the church in broad daylight.

PC Steve Harvey of Wiltshire Police, received an email from Romania, detailing the find: "I thought it was a scam email but it had a mobile number on it," he said. "So I called the person, who didn't speak very good English, and he said he'd seen this unusual piece in a village in Romania and when he looked at it he noticed the Ashton Keynes engraving.

"We're now working with Interpol and I'm reasonably confident it will be returned."