Churches hit with huge lead theft bills

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CHURCHES across south Lincolnshire are being left to foot bills for tens of thousands of pounds after being targeted by lead thieves.

St Peter and St Paul’s at Algarkirk, St Mary’s in Frampton and St Mary’s in Sutterton have all been attacked in the last few weeks.

All Saints’ Church at Fosdyke has also been broken into and its boiler drained of heating oil.

The Rev Gary Morgan, vicar for Algarkirk and Fosdyke, says he does not know how Algarkirk’s church will be able to pay for the repairs from the theft on Easter Sunday – its third attack in a year.

He said: “Last year lead was stolen from the south roof, then two weeks ago more lead was stolen from the same place.

“We were just in the process of putting up spotlights and a week later someone has come back and taken a substantial amount from the north roof.”

He added: “It’s a pity because everytime the congregation have really banded together to try to fundraise to get the roof repaired this happens.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Last Tuesday morning it was discovered 11 rolls of lead had been taken from St Mary’s Church in Frampton.

The exact value of the repairs is currently unknown but it is expected to be many thousands of pounds.

Vicar The Rev Charles Sowden said someone had been up on the church roof just two weeks earlier and had tried to cut off the lightning rod.

“We realised someone was going to come back and do the job again,” he said. “We’ve now realised 11 rolls were taken. Nothing can be done until the time we get the alarm upgraded.”

Mr Sowden says they may have to turn to voluntary organisations and charities for grants to pay for replacement roofing.

He added: “The sad thing is that although the police may catch those who caused the damage, there is no action that is restorative.”

A large section of lead was also removed from the north aisle roof of the naive at St Mary’s Church in Sutterton two weeks ago. Temporary covers are now in place.

PC Nic Hanson, crime prevention officer, said: “It is probable that the lead was stolen from Algarkirk church in the early hours of Easter Sunday and it is especially sad to see these important historical buildings targeted at a time that has such significance in the religious calendar and to the local community.

“These are heartless attacks on three churches which are left paying the cost of repeated thefts.

“We would appeal to anyone who saw suspicious activity or vehicles in the vicinity at any time leading up to the theft to contact Lincolnshire Police or Crimestoppers.

“We would also encourage all residents in rural parts of Lincolnshire to consider joining or setting up a Churchwatch scheme, details of which can be obtained from the local Neighbourhood Policing Team.”

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the vicinity of any of the churches or who has any information should contact Lincolnshire Police on 0300 111 0300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.