Thieves target Haywards Heath church three times in one week

Churches in Mid Sussex have been put on ‘high alert’ after a number have been victims of metal theft.

Holy Trinity Church in Cuckfield, Haywards Heath, was targeted by thieves three times in one week.

Vicar Michael Maine and church wardens Kate Berry and Brian Cutler. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

Vicar Michael Maine and church wardens Kate Berry and Brian Cutler. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

Michael Maine, vicar at the church, told the Middy: “We have been very fortunate through the years because the church is open all day and every day but we were a bit dismayed when three things happened in one week.

“Lead was stripped from our south porch one night, currently being restored with the installation of glass doors to commemorate the end of the First World War, then later in the week they came back for the north porch lead, and then someone forced open the donations box in the church a few days later – a hattrick of damage.”

Mr Maine thanked the ‘fantastic’ people in the village, who have been helping keep an eye on the church. “They love their parish church,” he added.

“And my two wardens are vigilant as well. We are very fortunate that we will be able to have the repairs sorted as soon as possible.”

Photo by Derek Martin Photography

Photo by Derek Martin Photography

Brian Cutler, church warden, said the incidents were a ‘real shame’. “It is a real shame that people feel that they have to do this,” he said.

“We are looking into extra security measures and there will be a cost for us. But it hasn’t stopped us functioning.”

A joint message from the Diocese of Chichester, Sussex Police, and Ecclesiastical Insurance this week, warned churches to be ‘vigilant’.

It said: “Churches in Mid Sussex are advised to be particularly vigilant at the moment. A number of churches have been victims of metal theft over the past ten days. The churches targeted so far have all been located in Mid Sussex area.”

Heritage crime officer PCSO Daryl Holter said he believed the majority of thefts have happened overnight when the buildings are unoccupied.

He added: “Most of the churches who have fallen victim to this crime are listed buildings and the consequences of such criminality can be significant.

“We are urging the communities in these areas to be vigilant and to watch out for any suspicious behaviour.”

Witnesses can call Sussex Police on 101 quoting reference 273 of 01/10.

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