'Completely unacceptable': Dismay as church is targeted during vandalism spree

Scaffolding up around the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North as repair work continues.

Scaffolding up around the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North as repair work continues. - Credit: Mick Howes

Officials have hit out at those targeting a church after extensive damage was caused during a spate of "mindless vandalism".

Police patrols are being stepped up around Lowestoft town centre following recent criminal damage incidents at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church.

A window targeted at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

A window targeted at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North. - Credit: Mark Boggis

It comes after numerous intricately-leaded specialist glass windows were smashed at the church at the top of London Road North.

With three separate criminal damage incidents reported at the church over the past two-and-a-half to three months, at least eight windows have been targeted with around 13 panes smashed.

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North. - Credit: Mark Boggis

The church, which has been undergoing renovations and repair work since July, has had scaffolding installed around the historic grade two listed building throughout this time.

With works to repair a crack in the hall wall and also to install a drainage system on the south side alongside other renovations, the repairs had been identified during the church's "quinquennial inspection".

Church treasurer Bill Belton said: "It is very sad.

Shards of shattered glass inside the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North after windows were smashed.

Shards of shattered glass inside the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North after windows were smashed. - Credit: Mark Boggis

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"Sustaining damage when we are anticipating improved premises is naturally distressing.

"This work must be done. It started on July 19 and we went two or three months without any problems before it started.

A window damaged at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

A window damaged at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North. - Credit: Mark Boggis

"This is a listed building - it is mindless vandalism that we did not want."

Mr Belton said that during the most recent incidents on November 14 and November 16, boys and girls had been spotted dangerously "climbing up the scaffolding" around the church and "damaging several windows".

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North with shattered glass inside. - Credit: Mark Boggis

He added: "These original windows contain special glass with lead, they are unique fittings that are very expensive - and now whole window units will have to be replaced."

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

Windows smashed at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North. - Credit: Mark Boggis

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Police have received a number of reports in relation to criminal damage at the North Lowestoft United Reformed Church in London Road North.

“During recent weeks, a number of windows were smashed at the church, causing extensive damage.

“A group of young people were witnessed in the vicinity of the church following at least two of the incidents."

With enquiries continuing and CCTV footage being viewed, the police spokesman added: “Incidents such as these are completely unacceptable and as a result, further patrols will be taking place in the town in a bid to tackle the issues and to reassure residents."

Information to Lowestoft Police, quoting crime reference number 37/64701/21, on 101.