Fury as church hit by thieves

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LEAD thieves have targeted one of Doncaster’s oldest churches by stealing from its roof.

Church wardens noticed the damage to the Grade I listed St Lawrence Church building when they were opening the church for a service on Sunday.

The church has been targeted on a number of occasions over the years but leaders says this haul is the biggest yet, leaving the roofs in a very vulnerable condition.

Although the church is covered by insurance for such damage, in recent years, due to the overwhelming amount of claims nationally, the Hatfield church’s insurers the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group now have an annual limit of £5,000 for theft of metals.

Once that threshold is reached it will be up to the church members themselves to cover the cost of repair or replacement.

The Rev Paul Wilson, Vicar of Hatfield, said: “Many generous and supportive people have worked so hard to ensure this wonderful church building is maintained, repaired and restored and this kind of greed-driven, thoughtless attack is both disheartening and sickening.

“The recently restored pipe organ, which cost almost £90,000 to refurbish, was left in a vulnerable position. If there had been any rain overnight then all of those six years of hard work would have been destroyed, as rain would have simply poured through the roof.”

The roof lead is marked with a special solution called SmartWater, which contains a licensed code and shows up when exposed to ultra-violet light.

This will also mark the skin and clothing of anyone attempting to remove it and should make it easier for the lead to be identified if offered by thieves to reputable scrap merchants, who are required to record the contact details of anyone cashing in metal.

The vicar and members of Hatfield Church now face the huge task of replacing the stolen roof lead and are considering a number of options to prevent future thefts.