Work was temporarily halted at Melton’s historic parish church after thieves broke in and stole the builders’ tools worth thousands of pounds.
St Mary’s is closed until November while a £1.9 million re-ordering project is carried out by contractors Midland Conservation Ltd.
But, workmen were stunned on Tuesday morning to find burglars had broken into the 12th century building and forced their way into a locked vault which contained all their specialist tools.
A spokesman for the contractors said: “We arrived at 7am after the bank holiday and everything had gone.
“We couldn’t do any work to start with and we’ve had to borrow tools and get some others from home.
“We have lost something like £5,000 to £6,000 worth of tools.
“We can’t believe it because everything was locked up and made secure before we left for the weekend.”
Tools which were taken included five-inch and nine-inch grinders and petrol circular saws. A quantity of copper cabling was also stolen.
The intruders got in by digging under the north door of the church.
They then drilled through bolts on the vault containing the tools.
Ian Neale, a trustee of the CIO re-ordering project charity, said: “It was a shock to hear about the break-in.
“It was, however, a blessing they came in where they did because if they had smashed one of the stained glass windows that would have been very expensive to repair.”
He added: “The work is on schedule, though, and we hope to reopen in November.”
It’s the second time the church has been raided since it closed for renovation in January. The first break-in was through a window shortly after work started when asbestos was being removed.