“This is not a victimless crime” says reverend of church targeted by lead thieves
PUBLISHED: 19:18 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 09 August 2018
A rector has voiced his anger after a small parish church in the heart of Norwich was targeted by lead thieves.
As reverend Alaric Lewis finished his morning service on Wednesday, he was met by police who informed him that two men had been arrested in the early hours on suspicion of stealing lead from the roof of the St George’s Church on Colegate.
Mr Lewis said: “This isn’t a victimless crime. I think people might think of it that way because there isn’t one person who has been injured.
“The victims of this crime are the people who support and love this church.”
The US-born reverend had read about other churches being targeted in the region thanks to this newspaper’s campaign on the issue.
Mr Lewis, 52, said: “I think the only way that these thieves can justify it, and not have their conscience take over, is because they think of the Church of England as this big, monolithic group with a lot of money.
“But although more people are coming to our services, we’re still a small parish, and the funds to replace this lead will come out of our reserves which would have otherwise been spent on church initiatives or other general upkeep.”
It is not yet clear how much lead was stolen.
Mr Lewis, who moved to Norwich in April, said: “If there’s one good thing to come out of this, it’s that the police were called by neighbours.
“I don’t believe these neighbours of ours come to our services, but it’s nice to think that the community think of this as their church.
“Since the 15th century this has been Colegate’s church, whether people are religious or not, this is a place for them.”
He said they did not plan to close the church during the day.
“We will be looking at preventative methods like alarms and cameras to make sure it doesn’t happen again though,” he said.
“It’s shocking that this happened in the city surrounded by people, when it was light outside.
“When we think of this crime we think of small villages with no one nearby, but I think all churches need to be aware of this.”
Police confirmed that two men in their 30s had been arrested on suspicion of theft and were questioned at police headquarters in Wymondham.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, and Church trusts from around the county have been working together to find a long term solution to the problem, and have set up the Roof Alarm Scheme.
Members of the public can support the scheme by donating here.