1. ITV Report

Police urge parishioners to be on alert after thieves strike at rural churches

Lead was taken from the roof of the church at Hartest Credit: Suffolk Churches

Police are warning parishioners to be on their guard after lead thieves struck at a rural church in Suffolk.

Officers are appealing for witnesses following the theft of lead from a church in Hartest near Bury St Edmunds.

It took place at some point between Monday 14 and Wednesday 16 October when All Saints Church on Lawshall Road was targeted.

Police say there've also been reports of thefts from offertory boxes in the surrounding area recently, and that thieves appear to be targeting rural churches, situated in remote locations.

As well as causing a great deal of disruption for the church membership, these crimes are also against our heritage, with no regards for the damage caused or loss of cultural heritage as a result of their actions.

"If you suspect that there are offenders on site, dial 999 as this is a crime in progress and the losses can and do amount to tens of thousands of pounds. Do not approach or disturb the offenders, as by reporting and observing discreetly, it will allow police officers the chance to get to the scene and apprehend those involved.”

– Sgt Brian Calver from the Rural Crime team