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Swanton Morley church hit by thieves

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 July 2010

Rob Garratt

THE historic village church at Swanton Morley is the latest victim in a trend of community buildings being targeted by thieves and vandals.

About 40sq m of roofing lead, worth around £15,000, was stripped from the roof All Saints Church overnight.

THE historic village church at Swanton Morley is the latest victim in a trend of community buildings being targeted by thieves and vandals.

About 40sq m of roofing lead, worth around £15,000, was stripped from the roof All Saints Church overnight.

Days later the church's burial ground was struck by vandals, with headstones disrupted and broken glass left lining the graves of villagers' beloved family members.

The church is one of a string in Norfolk to be targeted by thieves, with churches in Walsingham, Dersingham, Hunstanton and Wells among those struck in recent months.

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Swanton Morley Parish Council, said the loss has not been met by insurance which means the local community will have to cough up an extra £15,000 towards the ongoing church refurbishment.

The theft, which happened overnight between March 8 and 10, comes just six months after lead was stolen from Swanton Morley's village hall roof.

“It's very disappointing, Swanton Morley has really been hit hard by these thieves,” said Mr Atterwill. “The individuals responsible are cold and calculating with no thought for the misery they are causing.

“There have been lots of thefts from historic buildings all round Norfolk, but there's no way to stop them without sitting there 24 hours a day.

“I would urge all parishes to be extra vigilant and read the fine print of their respective insurance policies.”

The burial ground was vandalised, with graves kicked around, personal flower vases removed and smashed and beer bottles smashed on graves.

Mr Atterwill added: “It's not very pleasant and some of the relatives have been very upset. These people are low life, there's no other word for it - they wouldn't like it if their gran or granddad was buried there. There's no thought for people's thoughts or feelings.”

A police spokesman said no one had been charged in connection with the theft or vandalism.

She added: “We are, together with our partners including Norfolk-based companies such as scrap sites, working to tackle this issue and prosecute the perpetrators, but we would urge members of the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious individuals or vehicles which may have been seen in their neighbourhood.”

Witnesses to the theft or anyone with information should call officers at Fakenham Police Station on 0845 4564567.


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