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Shocking number of crimes committed against Suffolk churches

PUBLISHED: 17:44 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 05 November 2019

Aldeburgh Church is part of the Alde Sandlings Benefice which Mark Lowther is the Rector for. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Aldeburgh Church is part of the Alde Sandlings Benefice which Mark Lowther is the Rector for. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk Police have revealed that more than 150 crimes have been committed in Suffolk churches since 2017.

The Rector Mark Lowther is worried about more isloated churches who don't have alarms or are too far away for residents to hear an alarm. Picture: SARAH  LUCY BROWNThe Rector Mark Lowther is worried about more isloated churches who don't have alarms or are too far away for residents to hear an alarm. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Campaign group Countryside Alliance submitted a freedom of information request to police in the hope of raising more awareness about lead theft.

It turns out that a total of 169 crimes were recorded targeting churches in Suffolk since 2017, with 58 counts of criminal damage and 20 cases of violence against a person.

There were a total of 11 lead thefts and 80 general thefts across the county.

In the UK overall there were just under 20,000 crimes committed at churches and religious buildings which translates to a rate of 19 crimes per day.

Mark Lowther is the rector of the Alde Sandlings Benefice which covers Aldeburgh, Aldringham, Friston, and Knodishall and worries that isolated churches suffer the most.

He said: "Most companies will not insure the roof unless you have an alarm there.

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"We have an alarm which as soon as someone goes on the roof it shouts at them that the police have been called and it goes right to the police.

"But many isolated churches which have that won't actually be helped because they're so tucked away no one would hear it and the thieves would be off in no time before anyone got there."

MORE: This church had £20,000 of lead stolen in October

Many churches are listed buildings which means if they suffer lead thefts they must replace it with the same material to preserve the historic nature.

Mr Lowther worries that the thieves will not be deterred from the easy pickings.

"Lead melts at a very low temperature which means that whatever security marking on it will disappear once it's melted down and it's so easy for people to do," he said.

"A white van man could strip off a roof and make a turn around in 24 hours with a profit of untraceable lead."

Mo Metcalf-Fisher, spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance, said: "As a society, irrespective of faith or none, we need to be much more vigilant when it comes to watching over churches and places of worship by reporting suspicious activity.

"It serves as a reminder of the importance of funding and pushing for visible policing, particularly in rural areas where churches are more remote."

Detective Inspector Karl Nightingale, of Suffolk Constabulary, has previously said: "The impact these thefts have is really far-reaching and devastating for the community."

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