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Police urge communities to be ‘vigilant’ after two churches targeted

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Police have urged communities to be ‘vigiliant’ after criminal damage was caused to two Suffolk churches last month.

Criminal damage was caused to the roof of St Margaret’s Church in Newmarket Road, Cowlinge, in what police think to be an attempted lead theft. It was targeted between Sunday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 27.

The second incident took place at St George’s Church in Westhorpe Road, Wyverstone between 1am and 3pm on Monday, March 26.

Damage to the church’s alarm fitters was discovered in the daylight hours, after the person reporting the crime had attended the location in the early hours of the morning in response to an alarm activation.

Police have asked people to note down descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, as well as registration numbers.

They have also said that any scaffolding on churches should be removed as soon as work is complete, and suggest adding grease or anti-vandal paint to metal downpipes.

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 either of the two incidents should call Suffolk police on 101 quoting crime reference 37/16901/18 for the Cowlinge incident and 37/16680/18 for the Wyverstone incident or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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