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Thieves raid Norwich church

PUBLISHED: 11:30 06 May 2010 | UPDATED: 10:16 02 July 2010

St George's Church in Colegate is the latest Norwich church to have lead ripped from its roof by thieves.

St George's Church in Colegate is the latest Norwich church to have lead ripped from its roof by thieves.

Peter Walsh

Church leaders have today called on people living and working in Norwich to keep their eyes open to thieves looking to strip lead from historic buildings after a city church fell victim to thieves.

Church leaders have today called on people living and working in the city to keep their eyes open to thieves looking to strip lead from historic buildings.

The Venerable Jan McFarlane, a spokeswoman for the diocese of Norwich, said the general public as well as church workers themselves needed to be vigilant in the fight against lead theft.

The plea comes as it emerged St George's Church in Colegate became the latest Norwich church to have lead ripped from its roof by thieves.

Police investigating the crime, which happened between 6pm on Wednesday, April 28 and 6pm on Thursday, April 29, have urged witnesses to come forward.

The Ven Jan McFarlane said: “This is a real problem we're having with our churches right across the diocese.

“There's various steps we're asking people to take, but what we're asking more than anything else is for people to be vigilant. If you see people on ladders challenge them - ask them who they are and who they are working for.

“If everyone challenged people in the city centre it would be the best way of helping to stop this. This is just an expense that they could do without.”

Officers from the West Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) in Earlham, Norwich, are looking for witnesses to the lead theft at St George's Church, and another lead theft near by a day later.

The second theft happened a few streets away between midnight on Thursday 29 April 2010 and 8am the same day and involved lead being stolen from the stairway of a property in St Edmunds Wharf.

Last month church insurers Ecclesiastical released figures showing the cost of metal thefts from churches has exceeded £20m over the last five years.

As previously reported the congregation at St Andrew's Church in Trowse, near Norwich, were left devastated by the theft of lead worth £16, 500 in August 2007 which damaged the roof allowing water to pour in ruining the organ and tearing through plaster on one of the walls. The theft came after parishioners had spent months collecting £14,000 for restoration work to the church roof.

Anyone with any information about the lead thefts last month should call PC Aaron Parker, West Centre SNT on 0845 456 4567 or call Crimestopppers on 0800 555 111.

Have you been a victim of lead theft? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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