Police warn villagers to be vigilant as lead thieves steal from churches in broad daylight
- Credit: Archant
Police have warned villagers to look out for their local churches as gangs target Suffolk in broad daylight.
The warning comes after All Saints Church in Little Cornard was targeted in February, when thieves twice stole from the church in the space of a week.
Sergeant Brian Calver, of Suffolk police's rural crime team, said cases were not becoming more prevalent, but fears organised gangs coming from other areas of the country are becoming more daring in their activities.
Sgt Calver said: "We have more people coming down from the Midlands to do it, the main demographic are members of European organised crime gangs.
"But this isn't a problem only facing Suffolk, a lot of the other counties are being hit quite hard as well. One case is one too many.
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"It is despicable to be honest, it is just absolutely disgusting.
"Given the weather we've had recently, it can make the problem even worse - it is more than just the lead being stolen as the wet weather can cause yet further damage."
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It is believed around £3,000 of lead was stolen from the south Suffolk church, with two men also said to have fled the church grounds days before the first theft on February 7 after being spotted by local residents.
Reverend Stephen Morley said: "It is a very sad situation that people target isolated churches like ours.
"Coming back for a second bite of the cherry is particularly something.
"But thankfully we haven't been too badly affected and our services and bell ringing classes have not been disrupted."
For Sgt Calver, the case stands testament to the power of the community looking out for those around them.
He added: "If you are in and around churches and spot something suspicious, then report it to police.
"It is a difficult thing to tackle but us officers are always keeping an eye out when we pass churches and are remaining vigilant.
"Unfortunately we just don't have the numbers to sit an officer outside every church in the county."
To concerned churches, Sgt Calver recommended installing alarms and using forensic tools such as Smartwater.
He said: "Suffolk is actually one of the best in the country for alarm coverage.
"It can cost a lot to set up, but you need to think about the replacement costs for a roof's worth of lead - it can cost in the tens of thousands."
Those with any information regarding the thefts should contact police on 101, quoting reference 37/9259/20.