Lead worth an estimated £20,000 has been stolen from a village church in the Harborough district.
The lead was taken from the roof of the Grade II* listed All Saints Church in Dunton Bassett, north of Lutterworth.
Thieves climbed onto the roof of the late 13th century / early 14th century church in the early hours of Friday, June 30.
They removed 12 large sheets of lead from the roof of the church, villagers say.
It is the third time in recent years that lead has been taken from the church roof.
Church regular Claire Hurford, wife of churchwarden John Hurford, said: “The community singers were in church on Thursday night practising, and everything was fine then.
“But when our treasurer looked out of his window at about 8am this morning (Friday) he could see that there was some lead missing.”
Marks in the churchyard show where a vehicle was driven up to the church to transport the lead.
Volunteers were on the roof of the church all morning putting tarpaulins over the damaged area, she said.
A small amount of rain had leaked into the church overnight.
The lead from All Saints is marked with “smart water” which can identify where it is from.
But much of the stolen lead from churches and other buildings in Britain is shipped abroad, where the markings often go unchecked.
Though all churches insure their lead roofs, thefts are so frequent that no insurer will cover any more than a small proportion of the replacement cost.
All Saints will have to raise most of the money for a replacement roof themselves.
“We are hoping that we might be allowed to replace the lead with some other cheaper material” said Claire Hurford.
The church is described on the British Listed Buildings website as “mostly late 13th to early 14th century, and restored c1880.
“Parts of granite rubble, parts limestone, with ashlar limestone dressing throughout. The tower is of random granite rubble, four stages high with clasping buttresses to first and second stages which are angled thereafter and capped by carved heads.”
So far no witnesses have been found who saw or heard the theft in progress.
“The church is not really overlooked” said Claire. “It’s tucked away at the edge of the village.”