Church hit by lead thieves

Lead thieves have stripped £1,000 of the metal from Hailsham Parish Church – leaving St Mary’s with a massive repair bill.

The thieves struck sometime between Tuesday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 25.

Fifty metres of lead flashing was taken from the lounge roof area and damage was caused where the roof joins the main church building, allowing rain water into the vestry, kitchen and north chapel of the historic building.

Rev David Bourne, Vicar of Hailsham Parish Church, said, “We do not yet know the cost of repair or how much will be covered by insurance, although because of the extent of these thefts insurance companies have placed a limit on claims.”

Terry Evenden, a church warden, said lead had been stolen from the church before - from the vestry roof and the south aisle - in March 2007.

Full restoration after these thefts was not completed until December 2007.

He said, “Considerable inconvenience was caused through all the administration work associated with changing the roof covering to stainless steel (costing £40,000) - faculty, planning permission, consultation with English Heritage and the architect - as well as temporary weather proofing and internal re-decoration, not to mention the insurance claim.”

Jamie Harwood, Police Neighbourhood Engagement Officer, said there were a lot of lead thefts this time last year but the crime rate had reduced.

He said, “We are advising people to replace any lead with plastic, and use the lead to help fund this.”

Chief Inspector Richard Coates said, “Lead thefts have been an issue across Wealden and across the country due to the high price of lead.

“We’re working with scrapyards across the area to identify possible offenders who are stealing lead and trying to sell it on.

“We are also working with local communities to mark all lead via our Operation Creosote.

“We are very aware of the pain such incidents cause and we will do all we can to prevent further incidents.”