A North Yorkshire community has been left devastated after thieves targeted its 15th century Grade Two listed church causing more than £100,000 of damage in what has been described as a sophisticated enterprise.
The parish church of St Peter’s in Brafferton is believed to have been targeted by an organised crime gang, who stole 60 per cent of its nave roof leading resulting in rain water getting in and flooding the much-loved building and focal point of the community.
The church verger made the distressing discovery when he went to open up the building last Friday morning.
The theft comes just weeks after The Yorkshire Post revealed churches across the county are being targeted by organised crime groups with a call from one of Yorkshire’s most senior members of the clergy - The Bishop of Ripon, The Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley for a greater strategic partnership to protect religious buildings.
St Peter’s Church Curate, Reverend Carmel Gittens said the whole community has been left devastated by what has happened.
“We have just had a £160,000 lottery grant for renovation which is at the end of completion and involved numerous repairs and new stonework which took several years to deliver, so we are absolutely devastated, she said.
Read more: Yorkshire's churches at threat from organised crime groups
“It is a well-organised crowd that have done this, it was late at night when no one was around and it was a sophisticated set up - they knew what they are doing.
“We have contacted our insurance but they will only cover £7,500 and the actual cost is around £100,000.
“We feel that we cannot ask the community to put their hands in their pockets to help us, especially with Christmas coming up, but any donations would be extremely welcome.
The church, described as the focal point in the village, has now had its roof recovered with a temporary sheet, until money can be raised for the rest of the repairs.
Rev Gittens said: “It isn’t the perfect solution but for now it will have to do.
Read more: Anger as thieves cause £50,000 worth of damage to Yorkshire Grade Two listed church
“We have all our festival services here and there is a Sunday service every week so we need the church to remain open.
“It is also used for baptisms, weddings and funerals.”
Since 2017 there has been 2,532 crimes on churches across Yorkshire recorded by the four police forces. Of the 2,532 offences, 101 were lead thefts, 517 were general thefts, 429 criminal damage and 272 violent offences.
North Yorkshire had 205 crimes recorded against churches including 17 cases of lead theft, 99 general thefts, 73 criminal damage and reports and 16 violent offences.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to help with the repairs can contact Rev Gittens at Monk Green House for further information.