Icklingham: Neighbour interrupts church lead thieves in the act
17:57 14 August 2014
A priest has described how “saddened” and “bereft” she feels after thieves stole lead from the church roof.
St James’ Church in Icklingham was targeted last week by thieves who stole about eight to 10 large lead roofing sheets.
But they may have gotten away with more had it not been for neighbour to the church, Duncan Marston, who disturbed them in the act after his wife Sue spotted the crime in progress through their window.
The thieves made away with the lead overnight last Thursday, and returned the following night for more, but left their spoils behind when they were approached.
The tampering with the roof resulted in water damage inside the church due to heavy rain.
Parish priest, the Rev Rosemary Rycraft, said she was “absolutely saddened” and “totally bereft” about the theft.
She said: “The fact the church is working so hard to get money together to improve the church and make it a better facility for the whole village to use and something like this just takes us back to square one.
“In fact, if anything, we will probably end up in serious financial difficulties because we have got to pay for the roof to be done.
“Through the kindness of Duncan and his resources at the Mill at least they have been able to make sure the roof is waterproof, though on Sunday, even though they got tarpaulin up there, there was still water coming through. So there was a service going on with water going through to buckets.”
She said a recent flower festival in the 13th Century church had raised £800 which was supposed to be going towards upgrading the church with a kitchenette and toilet. She said that money would now probably have to go towards repairing the roof.
Mr Marston said they became aware of the Thursday night theft the next day, and then that night he disturbed the thieves in the act shortly after midnight.
He told them to “leave the church well alone” at which point they fled through the graveyard leaving their spoils of that night behind.
Mrs Marston said: “I saw them through the window. I had a feeling they were going to come back.”
She wanted to remind other churches to be vigilant.
Police are appealing for information and are keen to hear from anyone who may have information in relation to these incidents.
Call Pc James Greenhalf at Mildenhall Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 quoting MH/14/1296.
Police would also like to remind people that churches are often targeted for these types of offences and anyone who notices any suspicious activity around churches are asked to call police straight away on 999 if they believe a crime is in progress.