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Gang of 11 people steal lead from church roof in village near Wymondham

PUBLISHED: 08:32 02 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:11 02 June 2016

St Marys Church in Carleton Forehoe has had most of the lead roof stolen.
Thieves broke in through a gate which has now been blocked to prevent anyone coming back.

St Marys Church in Carleton Forehoe has had most of the lead roof stolen. Thieves broke in through a gate which has now been blocked to prevent anyone coming back.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

A gang of up to 11 thieves were involved in a raid which saw lead stripped from the roof of a village church.

St Marys Church in Carleton Forehoe has had most of the lead roof stolen.
Thieves broke in through a gate which has now been blocked to prevent anyone coming back.St Marys Church in Carleton Forehoe has had most of the lead roof stolen. Thieves broke in through a gate which has now been blocked to prevent anyone coming back.

The group struck on Monday night, when the area was being buffeted by high winds. Church officials believe the gang deliberately picked the blustery conditions for the raid, to conceal the noise created.

Over the course of four hours, after 10.30pm on Monday, the thieves removed all the lead from the chancel at St Mary the Virgin at Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham, as well as half from the nave. The cost of repairs has been put at £30,000.

To add insult to injury, the damage allowed rain water to flood in, damaging pews, the floor and other items.

Rev Tim Weatherstone said: “It’s an awful mess. You have really got to wonder about the mind-set of people who can visit such distress upon others like this.

“In a funny kind of way you have to feel sorry for such people. It would appear that’s when they target places because that’s when it’s windy the sound doesn’t carry.

“Now you can see right through the chancel roof and the nave roof.

“The first thing we have to do now is get a temporary roof cover in place.

“We’ve already started discussions with the diocese about putting up a non-lead replacement, so that will be the end of the matter.”

As part of its Stop The Roof Raiders campaign, the EDP and its sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, are offering a reward of at least £26,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

A police spokesman said there were two vehicles being sought in connection with the latest theft - a light-coloured, long-wheeled base Fiat van with a black roof, and a long-wheeled based Iveco van.

Laura Ashmore got married at the church on Saturday. After hearing about the raid, she and husband Pete started a charity appeal to help pay for repairs.

She said: “This church holds a special place in my heart. This is one of those things that many people never hear about or realise the devastating impact of, unless they are close to the local people and the building itself.”

For information, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/stmaryschurchcarletonforehoe


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