Thieves strip lead from church roof near Harborough

Lesley Hartshorne teasurer of St Helen's church in Sibbertoft where the lead theft took place.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Lesley Hartshorne teasurer of St Helen's church in Sibbertoft where the lead theft took place.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Thieves have stripped lead worth up to £20,000 from the roof of a church near Market Harborough.

The lead was taken from the roof of St Helen’s Church in Sibbertoft, south-west of Market Harborough.

The theft at the listed church, parts of which date back to the 13th century, happened on the night of Thursday/Friday last week.

The vicar of Sibbertoft, the Rev Janet Donaldson, said: “Most of the nave roof was stolen in the night.

“We did have an alarm system in place, and we have to find out why the alarm didn’t do what it should have done.”

Rain poured through the damaged roof in the night and locals found a lot of water inside the church on Friday, said the Rev Donaldson.

But she said she hoped the damage to the inside of the church was not too serious.

The church service on Sunday was able to go ahead, because the church’s side-aisles and chancel are slate-roofed.

A team of local volunteers protected the rest of the church with batons and plastic sheeting.

“Because we had a security system, I think we should receive a full reimbursement,” said the Rev Donaldson.

But she said parishioners now needed to think about whether they could replace the lead with a less valuable roofing material.

The Rev Donaldson added leaflets had been delivered round Sibbertoft urging potential witnesses to come forward.

There was a spate of church roof lead thefts in the Harborough area at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

Lead was stolen from the roofs of churches at Little Bowden, Husbands Bosworth, Welford and Cotesbach, near Lutterworth.

In the case of Little Bowden’s St Nicholas church, it was the fourth time the church had been hit by thieves in seven years, said the vicar, the Rev Andrew Quigley.

There was also a lead theft at Market Harborough Golf Club.