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Man admits being in gangs behind lead thefts from Norfolk churches after being caught following police chase

PUBLISHED: 09:48 30 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:31 01 October 2017

The aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Picture: Corinne Youngs

The aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Picture: Corinne Youngs

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A man has admitted being a member of two gangs that stripped lead from the roofs of rural Norfolk churches.

Lead theft at Baconsthorpe church: Pictures: Pat CubittLead theft at Baconsthorpe church: Pictures: Pat Cubitt

Remus Tudorache admitted he was involved in one gang which stripped church roofs for lead in 2015 but then he joined another set-up which was operating this year - until it was smashed when police arrested four members after a chase near Wisbech.

Tudorache admitted conspiring to steal lead from church roofs between March 1 and May 21 this year, when he appeared at Norwich Crown Court.

He also admitted being part of another conspiracy to steal lead from church roofs between April 1 2015 and May 30 2015.

Among the church roofs targeted by Tudorache and other gang members were Erpingham and Baconsthorpe churches, both in North Norfolk.

Lead theft at Baconsthorpe church: Pictures: Pat CubittLead theft at Baconsthorpe church: Pictures: Pat Cubitt

Tudorache, from Roland Avenue, Coventry, had the help of a Romanian interpreter when he appeared in the dock.

His barrister Jonathan Goodman said that Tudorache did not have a bad record and had a disabled wife and also had children.

He said a report would help the court as to the level of sentence Tudorache would receive.

Judge Anthony Bate adjourned sentence until October 26 but warned that Tudorache might be subject to deportation proceedings by the Home Office.

He remanded Tudorache into custody.

One of the conspiracies Turdorache admitted being part of was a gang jailed in July for a total of 10 years and 10 months.

The gang stole lead from St Mary’s Church in Baconsthorpe, near Holt, in March but struck again in April causing about £100,000 worth of damage.

The theft occurred just hours before a funeral service was due to take place, leaving no time for a temporary covering to be put in place.

They also raided St Mary’s at Erpingham on May 9, but fled when an alarm went off. But they returned to the church on May 16, stealing lead and leaving a replacement bill of £10,000 to £50,000.

At the time Corinne Youngs, secretary of Baconsthorpe Parochial Church Council, said the thefts had left them “totally devastated”.

This newspaper has a campaign called “Stop The Roof Raiders” which aims to raise awareness of this region-wide issue.

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