Shocked members of an historic village church are reeling from the third theft of lead from its roof in just six months.
The latest raid at Grade I Listed St Peter’s, at Tilton on the Hill, has left them with a £30,000 bill to replace the materials and seal up the hole which has been left.
A series of fundraising events are being organised to help pay for the repairs to the roof, which follow lead thefts at the church valued at £1,000 and £9,000, in December and March, respectively.
Treasurer Kathryn Letts said: “Everybody has been quite shocked by these thefts.
“The biggest shock this time for people in the area is that no-one heard anything, even the people who live opposite the church.
“The church is in the centre of the village but it all happened so quietly.
“We believe they may have thrown the lead down from the roof by the side of the Rose and Crown pub, which has been closed for a few months.
“There have been quite a few lead thefts from churches in this area in the last few months and we’ve been told there is a gang of them carrying them out.”
After the first lead theft, church members replaced the material only for more to be stolen three months later.
The latest raid, which happened on the roof covering the nave, happened just a day before work took place to install an alarm.
Insurance only pays for the first £7,500 of any theft so church members will need to apply for grants, as well as organising fundraising events, such as the village fete and dog show on July 1.
Kathryn said: “The roof on the whole of the nave has now gone and we have plastic sheeting covering the hole.
“We are hoping to replace the lead with stainless steel because that is less valuable.”
A spokesperson for Leicestershire Police said: “We are investigating the theft of lead from a church in Main Street, Tilton on the Hill, sometime between 5pm on May 18 and 4pm on May 19.
“Enquiries are continuing and no arrests have been made.”
Police have issued advice to residents to be aware of potential raids from metal thieves on schools and business premises, as well as churches.
A spokesperson said: “We would urge members of the public who live near buildings which could be targeted to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and to report any incidents as soon as possible.
“We’d ask the owners of any buildings that could be targeted by would-be thieves to consider installing cameras with lighting where possible, in order to minimise the risk of falling victim to such crimes.
“It’s also important to make sure that fences and gates are checked regularly in case there are holes or areas where access could be gained.
“Any ladders or other items that potential thieves could use to gain access should be removed.”
The thefts at St Peter’s have come after an extensive programme of work is being completed on the 12th century church to repair the spire and install toilets and a kitchen, following grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund of £279,000.