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Police urge people to stay vigilant following Suffolk church incidents

St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds. Police are urging people to stay vigilant following two incidents at churches in Suffolk. Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds. Police are urging people to stay vigilant following two incidents at churches in Suffolk. Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

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Police are urging people to stay vigilant following two criminal incidents at Suffolk churches.

The first incident took place between Sunday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 27, at St Margaret’s Church on Newmarket Road in Cowlinge, near Newmarket.

Criminal damage had been caused to the roof in a likely attempt to steal lead.

The second took place at some point on Monday, March 26, at some point between 1am and 3pm at St Georges Church on Westhorpe Road in Wyverstone, near Stowmarket.

Offenders caused damage to alarm sensors fitted to the church building. The damage was discovered in daylight hours after the person reporting it had previously attended the location in the early hours earlier that morning in response to an alarm activation.

Police are urging people to stay vigilant for unfamiliar persons and or vehicles parked at or nearby, particularly commercial vehicles and to note down any descriptions as well as vehicle descriptions and registration numbers.

Officers also suggest scaffolding is removed as soon as possible after work is complete and to add grease or anti-vandal paint to metal downpipes to assist in prevention of scaling of the walls.

Sgt Brian Claver, of the rural crime team, said: “If a church doesn’t have a roof alarm system fitted and has a substantial quantity of lead on the roof, it’s advisable to ensure one is fitted.

“The cost of an alarm which churches can apply for help with are far cheaper than the bills for the loss/damage which can run into tens of thousands of pounds.

“There’s also the bonus that much more can be recouped through insurance costs if an approved roof alarm system is fitted.

“We know these individuals will travel miles to carry out their offences so it’s vital for communities to remain vigilant.

“Also, if anybody see’s anyone flying a drone around the area of a church, do call police, as this could easily be a recce mission.

“If suspicious persons are seen then police would urge them to phone us on 101 but if it’s obvious that a crime in progress is occurring then dial 999.”

Anyone with information regarding the two incidents described should contact Suffolk police on 101, quoting crime reference 37/16901/18 for the Cowlinge incident and 37/16680/18 for the Wyverstone incident.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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