Lead thieves have struck a parish church for the third time in nine months, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage yet again.
A gang targeted St Mary’s Church in Narford, near Narborough, just three weeks after £20,000 worth of lead stolen from its roof last summer had been replaced.
Church rector, Canon Stuart Nairn, told the Lynn News on Wednesday: “The roof had only just been repaired, mainly because it had taken us this long to save up for it.
“We hadn’t even paid for it when it was taken, the cheque went out today.”
The priest said the theft, which happened overnight between Sunday and Monday, had left a quarter-of-a-century of work to restore the church in ruin, and affected the whole community.
“It feels like blow after blow,” he said. “Twenty-seven years ago when I came to Narford church there was no roof, and it feels like we’re going back to nothing.”
He said extra security measures had been introduced at the church since the two raids in July and August last year, including making it more difficult to enter the grounds and making the building more observable, but to no avail.
“You just can’t compete with modern day criminals,” he said.
“Whoever took it must have been looking and waiting,” he added. “Contractors have been coming and going, and although we tried to be very careful not to say the lead had been replaced, people talk and they must have been listening.”
Canon Nairn said his priority now was to make the roof water-tight, and will then have to look into alternative, but more costly, roof materials.
He said: “We had replaced like for like, but we can’t afford for this to happen again. We will now be trying to persuade conservationists to allow us to use alternative materials.”
The church will receive money from insurers, but the payout is capped at £7,500, and will mean they have to find at least the same again on top to fund the different materials.
PC Richard Beesley, who is investigating the theft, said: “Offenders entered the grounds by cutting a wire fence on Narford Road.
“I’m keen to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious – people or vehicles – in this area between 8pm on Sunday and 8am on Monday morning.”
Anyone with information can contact PC Beesley at Dereham Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.