Whaddon village church roof stripped bare of lead

Church roof Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption All the lead was stripped from the church roof over several nights

Thieves have stripped a rural village church roof of its lead leaving it open to the elements.

The raid took place at St Mary the Virgin at Whaddon, Cambridgeshire between Wednesday and Friday.

The parishioners discovered the lead had gone when the church was opened on Sunday morning for services.

Churchwarden David Grech said: "The thieves stripped the roof over several nights because images from a drone shows half of it was still covered."

It will take at least £100,000 to replace the lead and the insurance company is only likely to pay a proportion of that, he said.

"After an attempt to strip lead about 10 years ago, the roof was covered in smart water and a basic alarm was installed on the road side," he said.

"That last raid did more damage to the stonework than to the roof."

Image copyright Patrick Byrne
Image caption Thieves also damaged stonework at the historic medieval church in the village north of Royston

The thieves this time went to a quiet corner and were hidden from view as they brought the lead down to cut it into sheets.

"A roofer is coming in for emergency repairs and now we have to talk to Historic England to find the best way of making repairs," Mr Grech said.

"We are a small village and the congregation is about a dozen people but we are going to fundraise to pay for the repairs."

PC Sam Thompson said: "This is a substantial theft, which has left the church without a roof and facing a hefty repair bill.

"We are keen to speak to anyone who may have any information or who may have seen anything suspicious in the area over the weekend."

Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption After a raid 10 years ago an alarm was installed which the thieves bypassed

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