THIEVES have caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of water damage at a Weymouth church after stealing lead from the roof.

The low-valued lead, worth no more than a few hundred pounds on the black market, was stolen from the roof of All Saints Church, Wyke Regis after dark earlier this week.

The cost of repairing the roof and the water damage caused inside the building is estimated to come to tens of thousands of pounds.

Wyke Regis rector the Rev Deb Smith said she only noticed the damage after rainwater leaked inside the church and caused damage to furniture and carpet in a children’s play and worship area.

Mrs Smith said: “We had some lead stolen from the roof two years ago but we’ve now it’s happened again.

“This time it’s left the furniture and carpet in the children’s play area soaked where the rain’s come in.

“It’s really hard-hearted.

“Even local people who don’t come to church regularly have a real sense that this is their church and it’s part of their heritage that’s being damaged.

“We’re now installing some extra security measures and I hope that stops this from happening again.”

She added: “It’s not so much about the theft as it is about the damage that’s caused once the lead is gone.

“The last time lead was stolen everyone, even those who don’t regularly come to church, rallied to help repair the damage.

“Everybody in Wyke Regis has supported the church and we are very grateful for that.”

Church warden Richard Shoulders, who helped patch up the roof, said: “The lead itself can’t have that much value. No more than a few hundred pounds, because it’s water damaged and has clearly come off a roof.

“I feel really disappointed and really frustrated that somebody could steal this.

“The lead has such a low intrinsic value because it’s water-marked and the chances of selling it for a major profit are very low.

“It’s not so much about the value of the lead.

“It’s the cost of the damage to the church.

“This is a protected building because it’s valued by the whole community.”

A Dorset Police spokesman confirmed that the lead was stolen from the north roof of All Saints Church and was reported to officers earlier this week.

Anyone with information about the crime should contact Dorset Police in confidence on 01305 222222 or call Crimestoppers.