Leeds vicar's appeal after thieves target St Oswald's Church in Methley

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A vicar in Leeds has asked the public for their help in identifying thieves who stole  Yorkshire stone paving from outside a Grade I listed church.

The thieves struck at St Oswald’s in the village of Methley on the evening of December 18, taking part of a path as well as coping stones from a wall.

Piles of rubble were also found dumped among some of the graves and memorials in the churchyard, although it is unclear whether this was connected to the theft.

The Rev Sarah Hancox said: “It’s a shame. The timing of it was quite awful really.

“We have a lot of visitors coming at this time of year and we had a funeral the next day. It was sad for the family.”

She said the community had been very upset and offered what help they could.

“Most of it will be covered by the insurance, but it’s just the time and finding the right stone”, she said. “It’s a Grade I listed church so it’s got to be in keeping.

“We would quite like to get the stone back. If it’s still in one piece, we can use it to repair the church path.”

In August 2016 lead was stolen from the church’s roof. Stone paving has also been taken in the past, although not for the last four or five years.

The Rev Hancox said: “Sadly it has happened before. A few years ago we decided to put crosses onto the stone to try to deter them.”

The church in Methley is Grade I listed.

The church in Methley is Grade I listed.

Anyone who has been offered Yorkshire stone marked with crosses or who has information on the thefts is urged to call West Yorkshire Police on 101.