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Call for tougher punishment to deter lead thieves after latest Suffolk crime

PUBLISHED: 08:07 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:07 30 October 2017

£100,000 worth of damage was caused to Lavenham's St Peter's and Paul's church. Picture: JANICE POULSON

£100,000 worth of damage was caused to Lavenham's St Peter's and Paul's church. Picture: JANICE POULSON

(c) copyright citizenside.com

A Suffolk councillor is calling for tougher sentences for lead thieves after another church - in Sproughton - fell victim to the crime last week.

St Mary Church in Cratfield, which has been targetted by lead thieves in the past. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDSt Mary Church in Cratfield, which has been targetted by lead thieves in the past. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Christopher Hudson, county councillor for Belstead Brook and Suffolk coastal district councillor for Framlingham, believes that tougher sentences for those convicted of the crime would help to deter others from partaking in the practice.

“It seems to be happening more and more,” he said. “I just think it’s a terrible indictment on the way society is going. This is the cultural heritage of Suffolk. They are an integral part of the scenery.

“I really want a very, very strong deterrent for people who have to face what they do and [communities] want to see justice being done. They are tired of the crime and tired of the lenient sentences.”

Last week, a building in Church Lane, Sproughton, had lead stolen from its roof.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, said he was disappointed to hear about the latest theft. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDTim Passmore, Suffolk police and crime commissioner, said he was disappointed to hear about the latest theft. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Suffolk police and crime commissioner, Tim Passmore, said he was disappointed to hear about the latest incident.

“Any crime is wrong but I do find this particularly offensive when sacred buildings are targeted in this way,” he said. “There definitely needs to be tough sentences. These gangs must be caught.

“It’s important that anyone who has any information contacts the constabulary or Crimestoppers.”

In 2016 Samson Stancu, 20, of Deakins Road in Birmingham, was jailed for his role in stealing lead from a church in Cratfield.

Christopher Hudson is calling for tougher sentences to deter lead thieves. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDChristopher Hudson is calling for tougher sentences to deter lead thieves. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

It followed a high profile campaign - Stop the Roof Raiders - launched by the EADT and our sister paper the Eastern Daily Press the year before.

Sgt Brian Calver, from Suffolk police’s rural crime team, said: “Police work in close partnership with churches to help detect and deter metal and lead theft crime, and encourage all to consider the installation of lighting, CCTV and/or roof alarms.

“It’s particularly sad when our beautiful churches which are at the heart of many communities are desecrated in this way so we are always keen to see the courts impose as tough of a sentence as possible.

“Communities can act as our eyes and ears, and by pulling together to note suspicious activity, we can deter thieves and help keep these historic buildings safe.”

Anyone with information about any lead thefts in Suffolk should call police on 101.

The Stop the Roof Raiders campaign

In 2015 the EADT and its sister paper the Eastern Daily Press were instrumental in starting the Stop the Roof Raiders campaign which set up a fund of £26,000 to reward those who came forward with information about lead thefts.

At the time lead from about 40 churches across the two counties had been stolen.

Suffolk churches affected by the thefts include St Mary’s Church in Cratfield, Woodbridge Methodist Church and St Peter’s and Paul’s church in Lavenham where about £100,000 of damage was caused by thieves.

Last year churches in Yaxley, Great Glemham, Sibton and Polstead were all targeted within a few days.

Other buildings, inlcuding homes and public toilets, have been targeted by thieves.

Many local churches like St Nicholas Church in Ipswich have since improved security, such as installing CCTV cameras.

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