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Brazen thieves drive over graveyard to steal lead from Quidenham church roof, causing £15,000 damage

PUBLISHED: 08:14 05 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 05 April 2017

The Rev Canon Stephen Wright and churchwarden Jan Burrow-Wilkes outside St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The Rev Canon Stephen Wright and churchwarden Jan Burrow-Wilkes outside St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Archant

Audacious thieves cut through a fence and drove a van over a graveyard before stripping a church of its lead roofing in a daring overnight raid which caused £15,000 of damage.

St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Residents in Quidenham, near Attleborough, were shocked to wake up and discover the lead had been taken from the historic St Andrew’s Church during the night.

In what churchwarden Jan Burrow-Wilkes described as a “brazen and well-planned” operation, the culprits left no fingerprints or trace of their identity - save for the tyre marks left in the grass of the churchyard.

They also smashed the church’s security lights to avoid detection but may have been distracted by passers-by, as they left some lead behind before their getaway.

The latest raid comes just weeks after Norfolk was named as a national hotspot for lead theft, with 40 historic buildings targeted over the course of two years.

St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. A fence that the raiders damaged. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. A fence that the raiders damaged. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

READ MORE: Region one of the worst affected for lead thefts

“We are angry that someone would do such a thing and that they should be so without concern for other people’s property,” said the Rev Canon Stephen Wright, priest-in-charge at the Quidenham Group of Parishes.

“I hope they can be caught. It’s sad we live in a country where people like this are around.

“It’s something we’ve been warned about, thieves targeting Norfolk at the moment. It’s a bit mystifying how someone can drive something into the churchyard and not be heard.

St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. A security light which was smashed. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. A security light which was smashed. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

“It’s distracting for the work of the church. It’s just such a heartless disrespect for people’s property.”

The church is now liaising with its insurance company to see how much of the cost of the damage is covered or whether it will have to raise additional funds.

Mrs Burrow-Wilkes added: “Small rural churches are very vulnerable because we’re so isolated.

“The irritation for us is that we’re having to divert our attention to repairing the fabric of the building when we’d really like to be concentrating on the spiritual well-being of the village.”

St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH St Andrew's Church in Quidenham, where £15,000 of damage was caused when lead was stolen from the roof. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The incident took place between 8pm yesterday and 9.30am today.

Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area between the times stated, or anyone with information, should contact PCSO Dion Phillips at Attleborough Police Station on 101.

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