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Where's our bell? Thieves strike at church

Thieves have stolen a Rochester church’s historic bell. St Peter’s Church, in Delce Road, is appealing for witnesses to come forward after their 19th century bell was snatched from the side of the building.

The crime was only discovered last Saturday, but it is thought it could have taken place as far back as last month.

Ray Shuter, buildings manager, spoke of the church’s "horror" after thieves struck the Rochester parish for the second time in just one year.

He said: "Our reaction was one of horror really. It must have been difficult to get down because it was half way up the exterior of the building and it’s very heavy."

The bronze bell, made in 1858, is almost two feet wide. It was moved from another Medway church to St Peter’s in 1972.

Mr Shutter said: "I just can’t understand people doing this sort of thing. They must have risked their lives to get it down."

It is believed the theft occurred between 10am, on July 28, and 9.15am, on August 11. The church is unsure how it will fund a replacement, which will cost more than £1,000.

Mr Shuter said: "We have insurance, but we have already claimed once in the past 12 months for another parish theft, so I don’t think they will pay the full amount for a replacement. I don’t know how we’ll pay for a new one."

The parish was last targeted by thieves in November, when St Margaret’s Church had its lead flashings stripped from the roof, which cost £1,800 to repair.

Anyone with information on the bell theft is asked to contact Kent Police on 101 quoting reference XY/24557/12.

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