An honesty box thief is operating in South Westland with a fifth church targeted - this time the Franz Josef Catholic church.

Police said a padlock on the honesty box inside the church had been hack-sawed off some time between February 11 and last Sunday.

The box could have contained up to $150, senior constable Mike Tinnelly said.

Across the road at Franz, St James Anglican Church had its honesty box swiped last week, while thefts have also occurred from churches at Whataroa, Hari Hari and Ross in recent weeks.

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"This person needs to be stopped because these are all donations ... and this money is going to some germ," Mr Tinnelly said.

- Greymouth Star