Festival launch turns to shock as North Lopham roof lead theft discovery is made

The roof at St Nicholas' Church, North Lopham, which has been targeted by thieves. ANL-161026-112844001

The roof at St Nicholas' Church, North Lopham, which has been targeted by thieves. ANL-161026-112844001

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What should have been a celebration turned to shock after it was discovered thieves had stripped lead from the roof of a south Norfolk church.

St Nicholas’ Church in North Lopham was gearing up for its Knitted Bible Display in the church yesterday afternoon when the discovery was made, with light shining through wooden slats.

The roof at St Nicholas' Church, North Lopham, which has been targeted by thieves. ANL-161026-112833001

The roof at St Nicholas' Church, North Lopham, which has been targeted by thieves. ANL-161026-112833001

About 50 sq m of lead had been taken from the South Aisle roof. It is thought the incident happened on Sunday night.

The church has contacted others around the area to warn them they may be targeted by potential thieves.

Churchwarden Richard Vere, 76, said this was the first time lead had been taken from the roof in his 35-year stint in the post.

The lead is thought to have first been installed 55 years ago and is SmartWater protected, carrying a unique forensic code. The church also has insurance, and the section of roof has been covered and secured.

We are so relieved that the Festival was in preparation and launch — otherwise the theft may not have been discovered until rain came pouring in through the roof, causing untold damage to the interior

Jennie Vere

“We have always thought we are lucky here because we are right next to a B road and there are houses opposite and to the side,” he told the Diss Express.

“We thought it would not happen here.

“There is a lot of churches in Norfolk out of the way but here, there is people about all of the time.

“My first reaction was it was lucky it had happened now when it had not been raining, so the rain could not get in and spoil the displays.

“Why do people do it?”

PCC and festival organiser Jennie Vere added: “North Lopham Church is one of the most visible to neighbours and passing traffic, with houses to the east and directly across the road, and is only two car lengths from the busy road through the village.

“If thieves are brazen enough to take the lead from there, nowhere is safe.

“The roof in question is flat, with parapet all the way round, so completely invisible from the outside.

“We are so relieved that the Festival was in preparation and launch — otherwise the theft may not have been discovered until rain came pouring in through the roof, causing untold damage to the interior.”

Norfolk Police confirmed this morning the incident has been reported to them on Tuesday evening.

Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call police on 101.