Church struck by lead thieves during raids

Sacred Heart Church has been plagued by thieves
Sacred Heart Church has been plagued by thieves

A Stopsley priest has expressed his dismay after his church was hit by lead thieves three times in as many weeks, leaving a bill in the thousands.

Sacred Heart Church, Ashcroft Road, was targeted by a “known” group of youngsters, who in recent weeks have also stolen bikes from the church’s primary school and copper piping from Lady Zia Wernher– a school for special needs children.

While attempting to stop the most recent theft on May 4, Father Chris Whitehouse had to take cover after the offenders threw stones and bricks at him.

Father Whitehouse said: “The first time there were four boys on the roof, around the age of 16, who jumped off into the park after I shouted at them.

“There was a whole gang of them the last time and I could see a lot of lead had been taken, while more was rolled up and ready to go.

“They started lobbing stones and bricks across at me when I shouted at them to leave.

“We know where they are coming from and so do the police but as they are youngsters it seems nothing can be done.”

The thefts put more of a financial burden on a church which was forced to pay £42,000 for repairs after it was attacked by an arsonist in 2012.

Following the fire the church set up CCTV cameras but they have failed to deter thieves.

The latest thefts are expected to cost thousands of pounds to fix.

Anti-social behaviour in the area also remains a concern, with Sacred Heart Primary School having to replace windows shot at with an air rifle on Monday evening.

Mr Whitehouse said: “Not long ago I found people snorting cocaine in the front porch of the church as the children were about to come out of the school.

“We’ve also had drug dealers coming into our car park at night to do their business so I have had to move them on.

“It seems like the whole area is going down.”

If you have information call Beds Police on 101.