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Severe damage caused to Victorian carved roof after church lead theft

PUBLISHED: 18:39 13 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:39 13 October 2020

Church Warden Keith Davis in front of Preston St Mary Church - thieves have stripped its lead  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Church Warden Keith Davis in front of Preston St Mary Church - thieves have stripped its lead Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Thieves have stripped the lead from a Suffolk church leaving the historic building open to elements and resulting in severe damage.

Thieves have stolen lead from the roof of Preston St Mary Church in Preston.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThieves have stolen lead from the roof of Preston St Mary Church in Preston. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police are currently investigating the theft at Preston St Mary church near Lavenham and said a “significant quantity” of lead was stolen.

Church warden Keith Davis said: “It’s very upsetting to all concerned - it creates a tremendous amount of work liaising with other people to rectify it.

“There’s a concern that someone is able to commit this despicable crime in the dead of the night and that they weren’t heard.

“Local residents have been alerted and we are being extra vigilant.”

Church Warden Keith Davis in front of the damage inside the church. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChurch Warden Keith Davis in front of the damage inside the church. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A cleaner discovered wet patches on the floor when she arrived at the church last Thursday and then realised there was damage to the south east corner of the building including water stains on the walls and pews, and severe damage to the Victorian carved wooden roof.

The robbery is thought to have occurred sometime between Sunday, October 4 and Thursday when the damage was discovered.

Sgt Brian Calver, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “With the nights now drawing in and longer hours of darkness upon us, we would urge people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity around churches – especially ones with lead assets – as we often see an increase in these offences at this time of year.

“The damage and losses caused by the theft of lead from church roofs often runs into tens of thousands of pounds.

“I would encourage church wardens/custodians to review their security and consider installing an alarm, as these have proven to be a successful deterrent.”

Officers would like to hear from anyone with information about this incident, or anyone who witnessed any suspicious behaviour in the area in the days and weeks prior to the theft.

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