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Parishioners left ‘devastated’ after lead thieves target church in Sloley

PUBLISHED: 14:39 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:13 03 January 2017

Police have appealed for information following the theft at St Bartholomew's Church in Sloley. Picture: COLIN FINCH

Police have appealed for information following the theft at St Bartholomew's Church in Sloley. Picture: COLIN FINCH

It was supposed to be the season of goodwill.

The Bishop of Norwich openED St' Bartholomew's Church flower festival
. He is pictured with church wardens Pat Grimmer and Patrick Hawes
. Picture: COLIN FINCHThe Bishop of Norwich openED St' Bartholomew's Church flower festival . He is pictured with church wardens Pat Grimmer and Patrick Hawes . Picture: COLIN FINCH

But heartless thieves have left parishioners in north Norfolk “devastated” after targeting their church over the Christmas holidays.

They have stolen lead worth a four figure sum on money off the roof of St Bartholomew’s Church in Sloley, near North Walsham, sometime between 4pm on Thursday, December 29, and 9am on Friday, December 30 - forcing them to hold their New Year services under tarpaulin.

The culprits also cut the chain on the gates and ripped up the churchyard in their getaway vehicle.

Churchwarden Patricia Grimmer said: “They’ve made such a mess of the church yard - I don’t know if they had ladders or a cherry picker. We are all devastated that such people are going around.”

It is not the first time the medieval church, which dates back to the 14th century and is known for its remarkable font depicting the seven Holy Sacraments, has been targeted by lead thieves.

The roof was last plundered more than 30 years ago - in 1982/83 - but the lead was later recovered.

A parishioner out walking their dog spotted the latest damage, over the south aisle, on Friday and raised the alarm. A tarpualin has been put over the area to keep the building waterproof.

Mrs Grimmer said: “They (the thieves) have taken 15 metres by five metres of lead which will cost thousands to replace because lead is expensive. They’ve also ripped the locks off the gates and they will have to be replaced and we’ve had a tarpualin put on so that’s another cost.”

The theft at Sloley comes just a week after lead was stolen from the roof of St Margaret’s Church in Toft Monks - 30 miles away.

Norfolk Constabulary say they have not linked the two raids but are keeping an open mind.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Officers would like to hear from anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in either area between the times stated to contact them.

“Anyone who may have any information about the theft at Toft Monks should contact PC Phil Mercer at Wymondham Police Station on 101. Anyone who may have any information about the theft at Sloley should contact PC Matt Pritty at North Walsham Police Station on 101.

“Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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