Fears lead theft is coming back to Suffolk after 3 year lull as Lavenham church and Combs targeted

A large amount of lead has been stolen from Lavenham church roof. Left to right, Rev Stephen Earl an

A large amount of lead has been stolen from Lavenham church roof. Left to right, Rev Stephen Earl and Curate Mark Woodrow. Due to the heavy rain and the lead theft, water has entered the church. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The cost of the latest lead theft to hit a Suffolk church is still being counted, with the Lavenham Church curate fearing that the once common rural crime might be making a come back in the county.

A large amount of lead has been stolen from Lavenham church roof. Left to right, Rev Stephen Earl an

A large amount of lead has been stolen from Lavenham church roof. Left to right, Rev Stephen Earl and Curate Mark Woodrow. Due to the heavy rain and the lead theft, water has entered the church. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The cost of the latest lead theft to hit a Suffolk church is still being counted, with the Lavenham Church curate fearing that the once common rural crime might be making a come back in the county.

Reverend Mark Woodrow, curate at Lavenham’s iconic St Peter and St Paul Church, said they had seen a three year “lull” in metal thefts, before two churches were targeted in just two days.

Overnight on Sunday, St Mary’s Church in Combs, near Stowmarket, was left with a £150,000 repair bill after thieves struck in the village.

Then on Monday night, Lavenham’s church was hit, but Mr Woodrow is hopeful the bill will not be as high.

“You want to feel angry at them, but anger will not solve anything,” he said. “The last three years has seen a lull in this type of crime.

“We were starting to think the drop in metal prices and all the work done to combat it with the regulation of scrap yards was paying off. But it looks like there could be a gang out there targeting churches again.

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“I hope this is not the start of a spate of thefts. I know the police have been in discussion with the diocese – we did all that we could do, the lead is marked with SmartWater. The only real way to stop it is for the whole community to work together and report anything suspicious.

“Short of the police catching them red-handed with the lead in their car, you don’t know what more they can do.”

Thanks to the work of two local firms, the church was swiftly made watertight in a bid to safeguard the fabric of the building.

Mr Woodrow added: “We don’t know yet, but we are hopeful not too much damage has been done by the water. The medieval wood beams were exposed and have been soaked but it was secured quickly. We don’t think the bill will be as high as the £150,000 people have been quoting. It was a similar amount of lead to Combs, but we are still assessing the damage.”

It is understood the builders who moved in to secure the church were working at Combs when they heard about the latest theft, rushing across to Lavenham to start work immediately.

“This is a crime not just against the congregation, but the whole community,” Mr Woodrow added. “It is an iconic church that people from all over come to visit.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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