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Lead theft at Hartest church discovered when rain poured through roof

A reverend has spoken out about the impact of lead thieves on Hartest parishioners.

The village’s All Saints Church, in Lawshall Road, was targeted sometime between last Monday and Wednesday, with the theft discovered when rain came through the roof.

A builder has estimated repair costs could hit £20-£30,000, but with an insurance payout capped at £7,500 – as the church does not have burglar alarms or CCTV installed due to the cost – this leaves the parochial church council to find the shortfall.

All Saints Church in Hartest has had lead stolen from the roof..Pictured: The Rev Patrick Prigg....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (19842631)
All Saints Church in Hartest has had lead stolen from the roof..Pictured: The Rev Patrick Prigg....PICTURE: Mecha Morton .... (19842631)

The Rev Patrick Prigg said: “We don’t have enough money to pay bills in the first place, let alone install alarms, CCTV and pay a maintenance contract, so we just had to take the risk and go without.”

The church had taken steps to protect itself by installing a post blocking the churchyard to vehicles, however it is believed thieves got around this by driving a lorry past the Old Rectory and cutting a wire fence for access.

“We were just at the stage of having a fund-raiser to put in a kitchen and toilet facilities, which we have wanted to do for 16 years. We were celebrating finally being in a position to do that and now this happens,” said the Rev Prigg, adding that one cost-cutting option could be to replace the lead with a cheaper alternative.

“People will think you must replace with lead, but the reality is if it is a cheaper material it is a fraction of the cost and no one ever sees the roof. The only people who see it are the thieves who send their drones up to check or look for lead on Google Earth,” said the Rev Prigg.

Sgt Brian Calver, from Suffolk Police’s rural crime team, said: “As well as causing a great deal of disruption for the church membership, these crimes are also against our heritage.

“If you suspect there are offenders on site, dial 999. Do not approach or disturb the offenders, as by reporting and observing discreetly it will allow officers the chance to get to the scene and apprehend those involved.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting crime reference 37/63077/19.

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