VIDEO: Parish priest ‘working hard to forgive’ thieves who stole lead from Combs church

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The Reverend of a church near Stowmarket which was targeted by lead thieves over the weekend has said he is ‘working hard to forgive’ the people who did it.

Between 12.30pm on Sunday, August 23, and 7am on Monday, August 24, thousands of pounds worth of lead was ripped from the roof from St Mary’s Church in Combs which is expected to cost up to £150,000 to repair.

St Marys Church Combs, targeted by lead thieves, Parish Priest Chris Childs with Curate Rachel Cornish,'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150826-115243009

St Marys Church Combs, targeted by lead thieves, Parish Priest Chris Childs with Curate Rachel Cornish,'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150826-115243009

Graves, including one of a baby, were also damaged in the raid.

Parish Priest Chris Childs said the theft had been a huge blow for the whole community.

“As Christians we are working hard to forgive them for the damage they have done”, he said.

“The damage is likely to cost us between £100,000 and £150,000 to repair for probably £4,000 worth of lead.
“It is a much-loved grade one listed building. It is going to take years to repair and years to raise the money to repair.”

St Marys Church Combs, targeted by lead thieves, Parish Priest Chris Childs with Curate Rachel Cornish,'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150826-115113009

St Marys Church Combs, targeted by lead thieves, Parish Priest Chris Childs with Curate Rachel Cornish,'Picture Mark Westley ANL-150826-115113009

Although the roof was fully insured, the church will likely only receive around £7,500 from the insurance company for the damage.

Reverend Childs said it was a massive shock when he discovered the theft.

“I was walking my dog at 7am on Monday morning and noticed skid marks on the gravel,” he said.

“Looking up I saw damage to the roof and then realised the whole of the aisle has been stripped of lead and part of the south aisle.
“It rained during Monday morning and while we were in the church a lot of water was coming through so we went and bought plastic sheeting and someone gave us their paddling pool to collect the water.

“I think the whole community is upset by what has happened.”

The theft came a day before metal thieves ripped seven tonnes of lead from St Peter and St Paul Church in Lavenham.

The ‘well-executed theft’ of about 225 square metres of lead is thought to have happened under the cover of darkness on Monday night.

Suffolk Police has asked the local community to act as their ‘eyes and ears’ to prevent the theft of lead in the county.

PC Mark Bryant, Rural Crime Officer, said: “Rural churches are often targeted due to their isolated locations.

“Stealing a large amount of lead takes time and a reasonably large vehicle to transport it, so any early reports of suspicious activity will assist police in locating offenders.

“We are asking local people to take an interest in their local church whilst they are out and about.”

On bank holiday Monday, August 31, a meeting is taking place at St Mary’s church at 7.30pm to discuss how to raise money to repair the roof.

Anyone with information about either theft should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.