A VICAR is counting the cost after thieves stole lead from the roof of his church.

St Andrews Church, in Preston, has been damaged by water leaking through the part of the roof the lead was taken from.

Reverend Tim West said he noticed the damage after heavy rain hit the area.

He said: “The downpour made it quite clear something was going on.

“We have got waterproofing up there to protect us from any further leaks.

“There’s been water damage on the inside of the building.”

Rev Tim West said ‘about three strips’ of lead had been taken from the south aisle of the church, with no visible damage from the outside.

He added: “The church building means so much to people over the years because of all the events that have taken place.

“It’s a mystery why someone should cause so much damage for a little money.

“On the second hand market, it’s probably worth about £100 .”

Police believe the lead was stolen between midnight on February 28 and 6.30pm on March 2.

A long line of thefts from churches in the county took place towards the end of 2012.

Three strips were taken from St Mary’s Church in Frampton in April, after the church was targeted for a second time.

Churches in Stinsford, Broadwindsor, Symondsbury and Powerstock were also raided in the same year.

Dorset Police recently carried out a successful operation to tackle criminals involved in metal theft and the disposal of stolen goods.

Officers from Dorset Police and the Environment Agency staged stop-checks last Friday at Ferndown Industrial Estate targeting those involved.

The procedure was part of Operation Tornado, a nationwide initiative which aims to reduce metal theft.

Detective Sergeant Mark Jenkins said: “Operation Tornado is an ongoing nationwide operation which Dorset Police is supporting.

“The ultimate aim of the operation is to reduce the amount of metal stolen and sold at scrap metal dealers.”

If anyone has any information relating to the latest incident involving St Andrews Church, please contact Dorset Police on 101 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting Crime Number 008721.

Alternatively, people can contact the church directly on 01305 837 147.