A church leader has today told how he is 'devastated' after raiders stripped lead from half a church in Toft Monks.

Crooks removed a large area of lead from the roof of St Margaret's Church after they struck in the 'dead of night'.

The Reverend Nicholas Will, rector of the church, said: 'We're devastated by it.

'We found out first thing Thursday morning. They've taken a lot of lead off the roof.

'It just looks a complete mess.'

He added: 'The biggest job was making sure it was covered (the roof) in time for a big service on Christmas Eve - we've got about 150 people coming.'

Rev'd Will urged anyone who knows anything about the incident to contact police.

Norfolk police confirmed they are investigating the incident which happened some time between the night of Wednesday, December 21 and the morning of Thursday, December 22.

A spokesman they were called to say 'quite a large area of lead has been removed' following the theft which happened overnight.

This paper, together with sister publication the East Anglian Daily Times, have put up a £26,000 reward for information leading to the

conviction of those responsible for stripping our region's churches of lead.

Since the reward was announced at the end of last year, Det Con Andy Brown, Norfolk police's metal theft co-ordinator, said there has been an increase in calls to police about suspicious activity.

Anyone with information about the incident should call 101.