Up to £7,000 worth of damage caused after lead stolen at St Mary’s church in Doddington
PUBLISHED: 15:26 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:26 23 January 2020
Thieves who stole lead from 13th century St Mary’s the Virgin church in Doddington near March may have caused up to £7,000 worth of damage.
And it has been reported locally that Thomas Eaton primary academy in Wimblington also had lead removed from its roof.
Nicola Jones, headteacher at Thomas Eaton, said the theft only came to the school's attention after flooding caused "significant damage" to the roof.
"We do not know who or when the lead was removed," Mrs Jones said.
"We only became aware of the lead being removed because of the substantial flooding in the school last week."
A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: "We were contacted on 16 January with reports lead had been stolen from the roof of Thomas Eaton County Primary School in Church Street, Wimblington.
"The incident happened between 6pm on 10 January and 4pm on 13 January. No arrests have been made.
"Anyone with information regarding this incident or who saw any suspicious behaviour in the area should call police on 101 quoting 35/3910/20. Alternatively visit www.cambs.police.uk/report."
Church warden Paul Dunkley is hoping insurance can cover the repair costs of St Mary's south aisle and porch roof after large quantities of lead were stolen in the early hours of Tuesday.
Cambridgeshire police and church warden Eileen Clapham were alerted to the theft by a villager who noticed the lead was missing.
Mr Dunkley said: "We have contacted the insurance company and we have cover up to £7,000 and I think with the lead that has been taken, the insurance hopefully can cover it.
"If it wasn't for the insurance, we would have to fundraise for that money."
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He added: "The rain came straight through the wooden roof so the interior was soaked.
"It is almost a fact of life unfortunately that these things happen."
Although there was no CCTV footage to capture the theft, Mr Dunkley believes there was "definitely more than one person" involved.
The church has a SmartWater security system that helps detect a forensic signature if an area of the building has been touched, but this proved ineffective.
"I do not think the CCTV has got any images on it, but you need a group to shift that lead around," he said.
"We do have signs on the church saying SmartWater, but it does not stop them. Once the lead has melted down, the smart water disappears.
"Unfortunately there are not many alternatives to putting lead on the roof.
"It is something that is always in the back of your mind, particularly as it has happened before, but there is a limit to what you can do to stop it."
A similar incident happened "five or six years ago" according to Mr Dunkley, but despite modern security measures, he believes the church can only do so much.
"There is a limit to what you can do to stop it," he added.
"You feel disheartened because there is nothing else we can do."
Recently it was reported that 22 other church roofs across Cambridgeshire had been stripped of some or all of their lead in the past two years.
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