It's believed thieves struck at All Saints Church in Ripley, between 7pm on Wednesday, January 9 and 8.15am on Thursday, January, 10.
They drove through the main gate of the churchyard in a van and proceeded to steal lead from the roof of the grade II church, which was built around 1400. Damage was caused to the building in the process of this, and repairs are expected to amount to several thousands of pounds more than the value of the stolen lead.
While frustrated over the damage to the building, 'pulling time, energy and money, away from the church's engagement with the community,' Paul Harford, Vicar of The United Benefice of Bishop Thornton, Burnt Yates, Markington, Ripley, and South Stainley, said a question should be asked - What would drive someone to do this?
He said: "A historic building has been damaged, and put at great risk of further damage, but is that the real concern here? Should we not be questioning how we have created a society in which people are driven to such dangerous, and desperate acts of vandalism to support themselves?
"My thoughts and prayers are with the perpetrators of this crime, they need help even more than our poor roof."
North Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses, or those with information to come forward to the incident.
If you can help, call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference NYP-1012019-0102. To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The church is investigating the potential for installing a new roof alarm system following the incident, if enough funds can be raised.
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