2010: Churches across Norfolk
have been hit by a crime wave of more than four attacks every week over the last three years.
The attacks on historic churches range from burglars breaking in to take donation tins and candlesticks, to thieves stealing lead from medieval roofs and arson attacks and were revealed by an Eastern Daily Press
investigation using the Freedom of Information Act.
Churches face bills for thousands of pounds to repair damage and replace items which are often deemed priceless parts of the county’s heritage, but there is also an emotional cost to each crime as parishioners and worshippers, who see the sacred buildings as places of solace and security, are left feeling violated.
The Archdeacon of Norwich, the Venerable Jan McFarlane
, denounced the criminals, saying: “Most things in a church, in terms of candlesticks and crosses, have usually been given in memory of somebody. The emotional upset when something like that is taken is huge. It’s a sheer feeling of violation. What it indicates is a general lack of respect for church buildings which seems to be increasing. Once upon a time they were seen as sacred places – that’s clearly not the case any more.”
Police figures, obtained by the EDP under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed 193 crimes, or an average of 4.5 a week, were reported at Norfolk churches between January 1 and October 31.Since January 2008, 631 offences – or 4.3 per week – have been reported across the county and similar levels of crime have also taken place in Suffolk