Church counting cost after suffering third lead theft ‘desecration’ in 13 months

St Mary the Virgin Church, Wyfordby, which has suffered three lead thefts  in the past 18 months or so EMN-160817-141719001
St Mary the Virgin Church, Wyfordby, which has suffered three lead thefts in the past 18 months or so EMN-160817-141719001
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A church is counting the cost after suffering its third lead theft in just over a year, with the total haul of stolen metal estimated at about £25,000.

The most recent church roof lead theft at St Mary the Virgin in Wyfordby, near Melton, happened between 8pm on Friday, August 5 and 1pm on Saturday, August 6.

The other reported incidents were between February 28 and 29 this year and July 29 and 30 last year.

Churchwarden David Martin feels the desecration of churches should be treated as a hate crime by police. He said: “It’s distressing to experience the apathy of the police service and Home Office with respect to crimes against Christian places of worship and burial grounds. We’ve had almost 30 per cent of churches in the diocese desecrated in the past 18 months, with many robbed multiple times.

“The response is invariably the same from the police. We’re given a crime number and told the case is closed within a couple of days.”

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: “If a crime is perceived to be a hate crime by the person reporting, it is recorded as such. However in this case it does not change the investigative work carried out.

“All reports of theft are thoroughly investigated, with all lines of enquiry pursued.

“We’re working closely with churches across Leicestershire and Rutland to help them with crime prevention advice and to make their premises safe.

Lots of work is being done in rural areas to help prevent lead thefts through Rural Watch, a scheme set up to support rural communities, especially those in remote areas.

“Next month we’re hosting a church metal theft conference, in partnership with Historic England. The first of its kind, it will explore current best practice and try to develop innovative ideas to help tackle church metal theft.”

Call 101 if you have any information on the lead thefts.