THIEVES have stolen lead from a historic Todmorden building for the second time in three months.
Lead has been stripped from the roof of the Unitarian Church, Honey Hole, Todmorden, leaving the building’s interior at risk from the elements.
And it is believed thieves were only deterred from coming back to the building for a third time when spotted by an alert member of the public last weekend - and even then they brazenly claimed to be workmen from the building’s owners, the Historic Chapels Trust.
Chairman of the Friends of the Unitarian Church, Pam Warhurst, said it was deeply upsetting.
“This is one of the iconic buildings of Todmorden. It is very difficult if criminal elements have it in their mind to steal it brick by brick and tile by tile from under the noses of the people of Todmorden.
“We did get a tip off something was amiss but it is deeply upsetting and hugely costly. At the end of the day we are a community group and a charity,” she said.
Stolen lead means the church building leaks and its replacement was costly, said Pam.
After lead was stolen last October the group formed a Church Watch and she again urged people around the town to be vigilant and report anything suspicious.
“We have tried by locking the gates, but still they do it. They are amazingly confident thieves.
“We don’t want to cover the world with CCTV cameras, but we are having meetings and discussions with the trust,” she said.
The church, originally paid for by Todmorden cotton magnates the Fielden family has been referred to as “the cathedral of Unitarianism” and has been painstakingly restored by the trust and volunteers over recent years, hosting a number of public events.
It has usually opened its doors for public tours on Heritage Weekends.
Along with Todmorden Town Hall, the Fielden Centre and Dobroyd Castle, it is part of the Fielden legacy that gives the town its identity.
Inspector Allan Raw, from the Upper Valley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said the rising cost of the material has seen an increase in the number of metal thefts from buildings.
He asked anybody with information about where the stolen metal is being taken or who can give a description of the vehicles involved to contact police on 0845 6060606.
l WHAT measures do you think could be used to deter thieves, who have struck in the town stealing lead and copper piping from buildings over the past few weeks? Email us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org