There have been a number of lead thefts across East Anglia and in particular from historic churches in Suffolk. St Peter and St Paul at Lavenham is one of the latest to have been stripped: there have been 12 instances in the county since July this year. The damage to Lavenham’s church has been put in the region of £150,000 (see news report). Earlier this month the church at Groton was the subject of a theft (see news report). Reports are highlighting the difference between the value of the lead and the cost of the repairs.
The Church of England Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has issued new guidance to churches (see here).
Bishop Martin said: “We live in a low crime county but our community’s heritage has recently been prone to major thefts. A number of churches have had their lead roofs stolen and therefore the launch of these guidance notes is very timely. Working in partnership with the Church, the police forces in Suffolk and Norfolk have produced an easy to follow leaflet for Parochial Church Councils and I hope that they will be read and acted upon in order to keep our places of worship open and available to all.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “Our beautiful buildings need to be cherished and we must do whatever we can to combat heritage crime. The dedicated rural crime team is doing an excellent job. This team, supported by Suffolk’s two dedicated rural Special Constabulary units, has a very good understanding of the negative impact heritage crime has in rural areas. We all have a role to play to protect our county’s beautiful churches but so often they are in remote areas so I would urge everyone to keep their eyes peeled and report any suspicious activity.”
The Suffolk Constabulary has also issued a statement.