Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Church suffers sixth copper theft

Inside St Margaret Clitherow church
Copper sheeting has been stolen from the church since May 2009

Thieves have struck a Berkshire church for the sixth time, ripping copper panelling from the roof and causing structural damage.

The latest theft at St Margaret Clitherow Roman Catholic Church in Ringmead, Hanworth, happened overnight on 4 February.

Hundreds of parishioners had been forced to relocate after water began to leak from the roof.

Parish secretary Mary McNab said it had left some parishioners "in tears".

Thousands of pounds worth of copper sheeting has been stolen from the church roof since May 2009.

Pc Steve Mitchell, neighbourhood officer for Birch Hill and Hanworth, said: "The thefts have resulted in considerable damage to the roof and water is now leaking inside the building.

"The parishioners, many of whom are elderly, are naturally very upset by the damage and disruption."

The church, which was built in the 1970s, is used by up to 300 people a week.

Mrs McNab said that parishioners had been forced to vacate the church earlier this year because of the water damage.

"It has been very upsetting for the parishioners to see the church vandalised in this way, some have been left in tears," she added.

"But at the same time we are determined to get back into the church and use it for what it was intended for."

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