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Gang admit string of lead thefts from Norfolk churches, including Baconsthorpe and Ingworth

PUBLISHED: 12:21 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22 19 June 2017

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

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

Archant

Four men have admitted being part of a gang that stripped lead from churches in Norfolk.

The aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Pictures: Corinne YoungsThe aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Pictures: Corinne Youngs

Robert Balotesco, 38, Stengatu Ciprian, 25, Ion Dan, 25, all of no fixed address, and Razvan Cracea, 27, from Coventry, have admitted conspiring together to steal lead from church roofs between March 1 and May 21 this year.

Chris Youell, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said that the pleas on behalf of Ciprian and Dan were on the basis that they were only involved in the conspiracy for one day.

Among the church roofs targeted by members of the gang are Ingworth and Baconsthorpe churches.

Judge Anthony Bate remanded the men, who appeared via video link from Norwich prison, into custody. He adjourned sentencing until July 20.

The aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Pictures: Corinne YoungsThe aftermath of lead theft at Baconsthorpe Church: Pictures: Corinne Youngs

Judge Bate asked that the prosecution ensured there were updated impact statements from churches which had been hit by the lead thefts to be made available at the sentencing hearing.

St Mary’s Church in Baconsthorpe, near Holt, was raided between April 26 and April 28, causing about £40,000 worth of damage.

At the time Corinne Youngs, secretary of Baconsthorpe Parochial Church Council, said it was the second lead theft at their church in two months. She said: “We are totally devastated. It’s unbelievable.”

In March thieves stripped up to six tons of lead from the Baconsthorpe church. The culprits, possibly driving large vans or lorries, struck in the early hours of the morning on March 3.

Ingworth Church. Picture: Sam RobbinsIngworth Church. Picture: Sam Robbins

Lead was taken from the north aisle and a section of the south aisle of the church.

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.

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

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